by John Lyons
FREDDIE Sears has a blunt message for straight-talking Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy: “I want to play up front.”
The former West Ham United starlet has been playing in an unaccustomed left midfield slot in recent games as the Tractor Boys have motored up the Championship table.
The 26-year-old netted after just 16 seconds as Ipswich triumphed 2-1 at Fulham in midweek to make it four away league wins on the trot.
He cut in and left the Londoners’ defence treading water before coolly firing into the corner for his sixth goal of the season.
Sears also provided the low second-half cross that allowed striker Brett Pitman to net a 57th-minute winner.
You can see why former Republic of Ireland boss McCarthy likes the idea of playing Sears out wide; he can score, create and is also willing to work back.
It also allows the 56-year-old to field two other goalscorers up front in Daryl Murphy and Pitman.
“I’ve been enjoying playing there but I want to be a striker – that’s my main position,” said Sears.
“I don’t want to be a left midfielder for the next four or five years.
“At least it’s an attacking role. It’s not a standard left mid.
“I’m playing like an attacker but, when we lose it, I’ve got to tuck in and get in the shape.
“I’m happy for the team at the minute. We are all scoring goals and that’s good for any one. Most teams have got one or two goalscorers, but there’s a lot of firepower in this side.”
Sears was marked out as a star of the future when he first burst on to the scene at West Ham seven years ago, but he was never able to establish himself.
After loans at Crystal Palace, Coventry, Scunthorpe and Colchester, it took a permanent move to the latter in 2012 to get his career heading in the right direction again.
By scoring 14 goals for the League One U’s in the first half of last season, he attracted Ipswich to sign him for £100,000 in January – and he bagged another nine for the Tractor Boys as they reached the Championship play-offs.
“Going to Colchester helped me massively. Playing first-team football week in, week out was really important and I’ve come in at Ipswich and really kicked on from minute one.
“Everything’s great about this club – the staff, the boys. I think I’ve improved as a player and I’m starting to fulfil my potential.”
With Ipswich recovering from a slump in form to push their way back into the play-off positions, there’s a good chance Sears could yet find himself back in the Premier League.
“I’ve had a taste of it and I know what it’s like,” said the former England Under-21 international.
“I would love to get back there one day and have another crack at it, but we’re not looking past this year at the minute.
“We’ve got a lot of big games coming up and we just want to stay in that top six. Hopefully, come the end of the season, we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
If Ipswich do get back to the Premier League, then Sears believes experienced manager McCarthy will deserve plenty of plaudits.
“He’s brilliant. There’s no confusion with him,” he added.
“He tells you straight whether you are doing good or bad and that’s the best way for a manager – he’s honest.
“The boys love him and you see the way everyone works hard for him. Mick and his staff have been great for me.”
And his rapid-fire opener at Fulham?
“The gaffer wanted us to start fast but I don´t think he imagined we would start as fast as that!”
*This article was originally published in The FLP on 20 December 2015.