LATEST NEWS : What Kieran McKenna said on club’s January signings

Ipswich Town made four new signings in the January transfer window. Mark Heath examines what manager Kieran McKenna has said about them, as well as what they have said about their future plans.
Jeremy Sarmiento

Position: Winger.

Signed on January 3.

The lively young Ecuadorian winger, known as Jugador by his friends, joined early in the window on loan from Premier League Brighton after spending the first half of the season at West Brom.

So far, he appears to be precisely what Town was looking for: fearless, skilled, innovative, and eager to take on his opponent at each opportunity.

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He’s already scored two goals in the league, including a dramatic late equaliser at Leicester City, and he scored on his FA Cup debut against Maidstone last weekend. I can’t recall what else transpired throughout that contest.

READ MORE: Football cages, World Cup ban, and World Cup cameos – Sarmiento profile.
McKenna said of him, “He’s a very versatile attacker.” Throughout his youth career, he played wide on the right side for Benfica and Brighton.

“He’s played wide left for Ecuador and primarily from the touchline for West Brom.” And he’s played a lot as a No.10. Of course, his versatility is a valuable asset, as is our ability to take advantage of it.

“As a player, he is technically at a very high level. He can manipulate the ball, has excellent one-on-one abilities, and the ability to combine and defeat opponents.

“That was something we really wanted to add to the roster. You might argue that this time last year, with Kyle Edwards, we had some of those attributes in the team, which we don’t have as much of this year. So that was a goal this summer to add

These traits. “Jeremy certainly adds that.”
“He’s played wide left for Ecuador and primarily from the touchline for West Brom.” And he has a lot of experience playing as a No.10. Of course, his versatility is valuable, as is our ability to capitalize on it.

“As a player, he has excellent technical skills. He can manipulate the ball, has great one-on-one skills, and can combine to overcome opponents.

“That was something we really wanted to include on the roster. You might argue that this time last year, with Kyle Edwards, we had some of those characteristics on the squad that we don’t have this year. So that was a goal this summer, to add


Lewis Travis

Position: Midfielder.

Signed on January 5.

Just two days after signing Sarmiento, the Blues made a big statement by signing Blackburn Rovers’ club captain Travis on loan for the rest of the season.

He had fallen out of favour at Rovers, yet his departure caused much gnashing of teeth among the Blackburn supporters.

The 26-year-old, who can also play full-back, was thrown into the starting lineup for the crucial game against Sunderland, with skipper Sam Morsy suspended and Massimo Luongo injured, and looked fantastic in the 2-1 victory.

He again began the 1-1 tie with Leicester, but his contribution was less significant. Regardless, he appears to be a very savvy businessman, bringing expertise, bite, and guile to Town’s engine room.

After his impressive debut against Sunderland, McKenna exclaimed: “It was a big challenge for him to have a few days of training and then go straight into the team for a game like that, especially in the No.6 position, because so much of our play goes through there and the job description is very specific.

READ MORE: Travis, a ‘warrior’ who has come to play.

“Normally, Lewis would have been on the bench tonight and had the opportunity to integrate from there, but Luongo’s injury affected our plans.

“I think he coped beautifully, demonstrating his physicality, character, and fearlessness on and off the field. Now he’ll be ready for the game.”

Travis stated of his move: “When I heard Ipswich was calling, I jumped at the opportunity, given the league position and the team’s incredible start to the season.”

“Being a member of a team like this excites me, and I can’t wait to play in front of the fans.

“I’ve had some nice, honest chats with the boss, and I believe the style of play will suit me.

“I am aggressive both with and without the ball, which I think is what he liked, so it’s about me getting in there and impressing.”

Ali Al-Hamadi

Position: Striker

Signed: January 29th

It was no secret that the Blues needed to sign strikers this window, and they got their first at the start of deadline week, adding the Iraqi international from AFC Wimbledon for north of £1m.

The 21-year-old, who has just been playing for his country at the Asian Cup, signed a four-and-a-half year deal.

He’s already racked up 17 goals and seven assists for the Dons in all competitions this season, and McKenna is excited about his potential.

“Ali is a very exciting young striker who we feel has great attributes and a lot of room to continue to develop,” he explained.

“He’s had a really good first 12 months of regular senior football and has had a significant impact at AFC Wimbledon.

“He fits our recruitment profile of being a young, hungry, athletic and technical player who we feel can have an impact in the squad straight away, but also has room to grow and develop for the future.”

Al-Hamadi, who fled Iraq with his family to escape the war and grew up on a Toxteth housing estate, has no doubts he can make the step up from League Two to the Championship.

READ MORE: From Iraq to Toxteth to Town – Al-Hamadi profile

He told TownTV: “I set myself a target at the start of this season of 20 goals, so I’m quite close to that now.

“I love scoring goals, I’m hungry to score goals.

“I understand that it’s a step up now in the Championship and I’m going to have to get better and get sharper and overall better as a player to be able to keep that going.

“But I’m confident in myself and my ability, and I’m sure I’ll keep that form going, hopefully until the end of the season.”

He added: “Whenever I watch Ipswich it’s just high intensity, hungry off the ball and obviously attractive football on the ball.

“It’s just high intensity, high energy – that’s what you associate now when you think of Ipswich.

“I think that fits my character quite well. I’m quick, I’m powerful and I like to get people off their seats, so I’d say I’m quite a good fit for what’s going on at Ipswich now.

“When I think of Ipswich I just think of really high energy, high pressing on the ball, really good on the ball and exciting attacking football, which is what any young footballer wants to be involved in.”

Kieffer Moore

Position: Striker.

Signed on February 1.

We had to wait the entire window, but Town found their man on deadline day, signing the veteran international striker on loan from Bournemouth.

Moore, 31, has improved as a player since his dismal stint with the Blues back in 2017.

The 6ft 5in Welsh international scored 43 Championship goals for Barnsley, Wigan, Cardiff, and Bournemouth before scoring four times in the Premier League last season.

With 18 games remaining in the season, he will be expected to lead the line as the Blues look to secure their second consecutive promotion.

READ MORE: A point to prove – Moore profile

McKenna said: “We are delighted to have signed a striker with strong Championship pedigree, as well as experience in the Premier League and at international level.

“Kieffer will bring some very important technical and physical attributes to the squad. We feel his professionalism and mentality will be an addition to the culture we already have within the group.”
Moore told TownTV: “It’s been a long time coming. Obviously I remember my first time here, so to come back now, I’m delighted.

“Looking around, from what I’ve seen, there’s been a bit of change. I can’t wait to get going.”

He continued: “I want to do well, I want to score goals, I want to be a part of something and secure that lucrative promotion.

“In your career, you always need to aspire to do great stuff. To get Ipswich Town back in the Premier League, that’d be amazing.”

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