‘We’re trying to change a mentality... we want them to be more positive’ - Hurst on his Ipswich players

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 July 2018

Gwion Edwards could get his first start of pre-season when Ipswich face MK Dons tonight. Picture Pagepix

Gwion Edwards could get his first start of pre-season when Ipswich face MK Dons tonight. Picture Pagepix

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Paul Hurst has admitted he is still working to change his players’ mentality as he looks to mould Ipswich Town in his image.

Bartosz Bialkowski is set to play again after returning at Barnet. Picture: PAGEPIXBartosz Bialkowski is set to play again after returning at Barnet. Picture: PAGEPIX

Hurst was appointed at the end of May following Mick McCarthy’s five-and-a-half years in charge of the Blues, with the new boss not afraid to make changes and highlight areas where he believes his side is in need of improvement.

He will see them in action again at MK Dons this evening, having previously admitted he and assistant Chris Doig have been surprised by both the physical conditioning and footballing ability of some of their players.

Hurst believes some of the players are finding it harder to adapt than others following the change of manager and wants to see them be more positive on the ball.

“The players are working hard, there’s no doubt about that and I can’t fault their attitudes, but it’s still a little bit of a hangover from what they’re used to,” he said.

Paul Hurst says he wants his players to be more positive. Picture: PAGEPIXPaul Hurst says he wants his players to be more positive. Picture: PAGEPIX

“We’re perhaps trying to change a bit of mentality around the group, which again takes time.

MORE: ‘He’s got to hit the ground running... he’s done nothing for me yet’ - Hurst on Knudsen

“We want them to be a bit more positive in everything they do and at times they can look a little bit fearful, almost.

“I look at our wide players on a few occasions where they do something good and then turn back towards their own goal and I don’t understand why. I’m never going to shout at them for taking on the defender and taking people on.

“I want to be on the sideline getting excited because there are little moments in games where you turn into a fan. Then you have to remember what job you’ve got and get things right.

“That’s what fans want to see. We want players closing down, we did things OK at times (at Barnet) when Jordan (Roberts) had a shoot in the first half flash past the post and that’s what we’re looking for.

“Sometimes we still seem a little bit cautious to really go all out and in possession we just want to be that little bit more positive.

MORE: Big interview: Tristan Nydam...A young Ipswich Town star with a very bright future

Martyn Waghorn played 90 minutes at Barnet. Picture: PAGEPIXMartyn Waghorn played 90 minutes at Barnet. Picture: PAGEPIX

“We’ve had a good chat about that and hopefully they’re very clear about what we want. That’s not digging them out, that’s not what we’re all about, we just want people to know what we expect and enjoy their football.”

Hurst and Doig took a watching brief during Saturday’s pre-season victory at Barnet, remaining seated for much of the game and allowing their players to express themselves despite usually being stationed on the edge of their technical area during competitive games.

“They know what’s expected from them and they got little bits of information but not too much,” Hurst said.

“We can’t walk them through every bit of the game and whether it’s Portman Road or at Rotherham, Carrow Road, there will be 20-odd thousand at some of those games so if we’re going to try and get something over to the far side they’re not going to hear us.

Joe Garner could make his first appearance of pre-season after struggling with a knee injury. Picture: ROSS HALLSJoe Garner could make his first appearance of pre-season after struggling with a knee injury. Picture: ROSS HALLS

“Some bits will get nailed down more and more as we get closer but some things they do have to work out. We’re not playing American football where we can stop the game for a time out and go through everything. Some learning has to take place.

MORE: Things becoming clearer, a watching brief and Waggy Watch - observations from Barnet

“I’m still learning about them and sometimes we’re getting our messages across, sometimes we’re not. Certain individuals get it more than others and that’s what pre-season’s about.”

Hurst appears close to settling on a system for the start of his Ipswich Town reign, with variations of a 4-2-3-1 system in display in all three pre-season games to date.

Jonas Knudsen is back from his summer break and could play at MK Dons. Picture: Steven GardinerJonas Knudsen is back from his summer break and could play at MK Dons. Picture: Steven Gardiner

Similar systems have also been in evidence during Under 23 and Under 18 games in recent days, with Hurst impressed with how the club’s young players have adapted.

“In those two games (U23s 1-1 draw at Lowestoft and the U18s’ 2-0 win at AFC Sudbury) the lads did alright and in the Under 18s particularly the lads were great, so credit to them,” he said. That’s been the best performance I’ve seen from any of the team so far.

“There have been tweaks and some differences in the first half and second half which, admittedly, may not have been picked up on, but it’s always been the centre forward and the wide players. The change has been in the middle of the pitch.”

MORE: ‘They’ve done OK but really I’m looking for a little bit more’ - Hurst wants his players to step up

Following tonight’s game in Milton Keynes the Blues will just have the home clash with West Ham in which to work on things ahead of the big kick-off.

“In some ways, because of where we’re at and wanting more bodies in, we don’t want it to come around too soon,” Hurst admitted.

“But there’s also the fact of wanting it to really mean something, with bigger crowds adding to the atmosphere.”

Joe Garner could potentially return for Ipswich this evening having missed a large chunk of pre-season with a knee problem, while Jonas Knudsen could also make his first pre-season appearance after returning from his post-World Cup break yesterday.

Teddy Bishop and Emyr Huws are still not ready to play but have been involved in light training sessions, but Tom Adeyemi is not working with the first team yet having struggled with an Achilles problem of late.

Ellis Harrison could make his first appearance in an Ipswich Town shirt after completing his move from Bristol Rovers last night.

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