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Ipswich boss McKenna hails ‘massive’ achievement

Kieran McKenna

Ipswich Town head coach Kieran McKenna is excited for a “fantastic challenge ahead” after guiding his side back to the Premier League after 22 years.

The Tractor Boys beat Huddersfield 2-0 at Portman Road to make certain of the second Championship promotion spot behind champions Leicester City.

Just 15 months after leaving League One, Ipswich will welcome the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United next season.

“A whole generation of fans are going to get to experience that for the first time, those clubs coming to the county of Suffolk,” said McKenna.

“We know what that can do for the community. It’s massive and I’m just pleased for everybody in that regard.”

Wes Burns and Omari Hutchinson scored the goals that beat Huddersfield, whose relegation to the third tier was confirmed by the result.

Conor Chaplin and Nathan Broadhead – who did not get onto the pitch from the bench – finished the season as joint top scorers with 13 goals each.

McKenna was not only proud of his team’s second successive promotion but also the style in which they achieved it.

“They’ve been incredible – sticking to our mantras, sticking to the messages, enjoying each step of the way, I think we’ve played really good football in lots of the games as well,” he told BBC Radio Suffolk.

“They’ve been so consistent from a performance level point of view, they deserve everything they are getting.”

McKenna said he could not remember a single conversation last summer about setting targets for the Championship campaign.

“Trying to stay up is the first base, but it’s not like we set that as a goal. All the conversations were about ‘how do we keep improving’, ‘will our playing style be successful in the Championship?’

“We thought we’d travel well upwards but had to test that out, see if we could stay brave and go on the attack.

“For the 46 games, we vowed we’d run ourselves into the floor – they were the only goals we set and they worked pretty well.”

Mark Ashton and Kieran McKenna

Kieran McKenna (right) with Ipswich chief executive Mark Ashton (Rex Features)

Ipswich are the fifth team to go from the third tier to the Premier League in consecutive seasons – following Watford (1998-1999), Manchester City (1999-2000), Norwich City (2010-2011) and Southampton (2011-12).

“We’ve got 96 points in one of the most competitive Championships in history, it’s not even been a normal year,” added McKenna.

“I came in two-and-a-half years ago and there’s a quite a few players still here. They’ve all had their part to play along the journey that we’ve been on.

“We’ve had some fantastic characters, real leaders who have grown with the group over the past two-and-a-half years and pretty much all of them have taken their performances to another level.

“The way they support and push each other is pretty unique. They deserve the plaudits they are rightly going to get.”

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