The Tractor Boys earned their first promotion in 23 years last season, finishing second in League One, with a club record of 98 points and scoring 101 league goals.
Are Kieran McKenna’s side capable of following that up with another promotion to the Premier League?
This looks like an exciting time to be an Ipswich Town fan. A Championship top-half finish would certainly be satisfactory, but if League One stars such as Conor Chaplin, and Leif Davis can step up as expected, the ambitious Tractor Boys could surprise a few.
Last Season: 2nd (League One)
Top scorer: Conor Chaplin (29)
Transfers In: Jack Taylor – Peterborough United (undisclosed), George Hirst – Leicester City (£1.5m), Omari Hutchinson – Chelsea (loan), Cieran Slicker – Manchester City (undisclosed)
Transfers Out: Joe Pigott – Leyton Orient (free transfer), Rekeem Harper – Burton Albion (free transfer), Joel Coleman – Bolton Wanderers (free transfer), Kane Vincent-Young – Wycombe Wanderers (free transfer), Richard Keogh – Wycombe Wanderers (free transfer), Matt Penney – released, Panutche Camara – Charlton Athletic (loan), Idris El Mizouni – Leyton Orient (loan), Tete Yengi – Kuopion Palloseura (loan), Corrie Ndaba – Kilmarnock (loan), Gassan Ahadme – Cambridge United (loan)
First Game: Sunderland (A)
The Tractor Boys have a decent outside chance of making the playoffs next season, in my opinion.
Kieran McKenna’s side broke the 100 goal barrier last season, becoming only the third team to manage that feat since the divisional rebrand. Conor Chaplin was responsible for 26% of those strikes and he shared the Golden Boot with Jonson Clarke-Harris, both scoring 26 goals a piece, and he’ll certainly want to improve on the 11 strikes he notched for Barnsley the last time he played in the second tier, back in 2019-20.
Chaplin will once again be a key figure in Ipswich’s promotion push this season, along with Christian Walton, Luke Woolfenden, Leif Davis and Sam Morsy, who were all instrumental in Ipswich finishing 2nd last term.
It wasn’t just Town’s attack that wowed the neutrals last season, it was also their defence – the Tractor Boys kept an astonishing nine consecutive clean sheets in their final 15 games, and won 12 of those matches without conceding, scoring a whopping 45 goals during that run.
That momentum should go a long way heading into this campaign, as Ipswich have managed to retain key players – as outlined above – as well as adding some quality to the squad. Jack Taylor arrives after a stellar season with Peterborough United, while George Hirst has turned his loan move from Leicester into a permanent switch after scoring seven goals across all competitions.
Prodigal Chelsea midfielder Omari Hutchinson also joins on-loan from Mauricio Pochettino’s side, having won two full international caps for Jamaica, and having made two senior appearances for Chelsea last season, both coming against Manchester City in Premier League and FA Cup games.
The one negative when looking at this Ipswich side is that they haven’t strengthened as much as they might need to. For example, McKenna has not made any defensive reinforcements (at the time of writing), and choosing to trust what he knows, and to be fair who can blame him? After the 23 clean sheets (one every two games is rather impressive) his back line kept last year, I suspect he feels that it’s only fair to see what they’re made of, if you will.
I believe McKenna’s faith in his key players will be repaid and they will scrape into the top six, which would mark an excellent season, straight up from League One. I don’t think they will have enough to secure back-to-back promotions, however they could be a dark horse for a Premier League place.