June 20, 2022 6:00 AM
Conor Chaplin is pleased with his progress as he continues to adapt to a new position following his move to Ipswich Town.
The attacker was the Blues’ 10th signing of a hectic summer in 2021, with the move from Barnsley reuniting Chaplin with Paul Cook following their time working together at Portsmouth.
Under both Cook and subsequently Kieran McKenna, Chaplin has been deployed as an attacking midfielder, something he’s needed to get used to after spending the majority of his career playing in more advanced roles.
He’s pleased with his progress but is hoping for more when the 2022/23 season gets underway.
“I think fans at Ipswich probably think that I’ve always been an attacking midfielder but I’ve not really been that until I came here, but I’m really enjoying the role,” Chaplin said.
“You get a lot more of the ball, which is something that obviously every footballer loves.
“It’s something that I’m learning from as well. I work with the gaffer and the coaches every day, every week in terms of getting better. Getting better at receiving, those are the things that I’ve been able to take from Santi (Bersant Celina) and Sone (Aluko) in terms of the way they play in those pockets where they’ve probably played their whole careers.
“The boss obviously likes me in that position, but obviously I’ll play left wing-back, right wing-back, center-half. I not bothered as long as I’m contributing to this club on the pitch and off the pitch, that’s obviously what I’ll be looking to do.”
While his Ipswich future appears to be operating as a No.10, the versatility Chaplin is able to offer could be a real advantage to both him and the team.
He’s played in a variety of different systems during his career and is keen to offer his services wherever they’re needed.
“I probably played up front on my own at Portsmouth under Cooky (Paul Cook),” Chaplin said. “At Barnsley I played in a two. I’ve never really played as an attacking midfielder.
“I played as a nine and a half at Coventry as well, so this is probably the first time that I’m in midfielder meetings rather than striker meetings at the training ground.
He added with a smile: “It pains me watching strikers doing finishing drills and I’m doing passing drills, I don’t enjoy that.
“But I’m learning from it and it’s something that I’ll be looking to build on next season in terms of numbers because I’m a big advocate of that. You need to affect games with numbers, goals and assists.
“I probably wouldn’t like to be pigeon-holed as a player anyway, just because there’s less chance of playing. If you can play in more positions you’ve got more chance of playing, and playing is obviously the be all and end all.
“I like playing and scoring as well, so I definitely don’t want to get away from my scoring instincts because that’s what gives me the biggest buzz, so the more of that the better.”
Chaplin finished a positive first Ipswich season on 11 goals, scoring twice in the Blues’ final three games to move into double figures.
He’s targeting more when the 2022/23 season begins, though.
“I set my targets usually a bit higher as a number nine but as an attacking midfielder, which I’ve been playing, then I can’t have any qualms about those numbers,” he said.
“Next year I definitely want more. I’ve had a couple of dry patches this year, which every player’s going to have, especially if you’re not a number nine, which I definitely want to improve on.
“I want to be in the box more, I want to have more shots in games, more crosses, more assists, definitely. That’s something that I’ll be looking to build on.”