Freddie Sears is fighting his way back to the top and, after experiencing play-off heartbreak last season, he’s confident Ipswich Town are the club to take him there.
Sears swapped boyhood club West Ham United for League One Colchester United in 2012, before earning a move to the Tractor Boys just over a year ago.
Under the tutelage of Mick McCarthy, Ipswich – who have been in the Championship since 2002 – made it to the play-offs, only to suffer a semi-final defeat at the hands of fierce rivals Norwich City.
Sears, however, feels stronger for the experience, and the 26-year-old forward has no fear of fading from the promotion hunt when this season draws to a close.
“We have a really good manager here, who won’t let that happen,” he said.
“We got there last season. It wasn’t easy, but we have that steel and determination. We got a taste of it and we want to be there again this summer.
“There is a tight group of teams going together and we know that two or three of them are going to be there at the end of the season.
“You look at Middlesbrough and Derby. Last weekend they both lost and that brings everyone back in it again.
“Then you think maybe it’s not over. And Brighton have been brought back down towards us recently.
“This club deserves a crack at the Premier League. It has been some time since they were there and I would personally love another crack at it.”
Sears has not featured in the Premier League since 2011, as part of the West Ham side that finished at the foot of the pile and slipped down to the Championship.
It was halfway through the following season that he initially joined Colchester on loan, before making the deal permanent that summer. It’s a decision he can look back on with great pride.
This season has already brought its ups and downs.
A much-changed Ipswich side were dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two Portsmouth this week, while the goals have not flowed quite as freely for Sears or front man Daryl Murphy as they did last term.
However, the former England Under-21 man feels better than ever and heads to the business end of the season filled with confidence.
“It was a tough call to leave West Ham but it’s about your career and you need to play football,” recalled Sears.
“There is no better feeling than playing on a Saturday in front of that crowd.
“That was the decision I had to make. When I went to Colchester, that is what I wanted to do but – no disrespect to them – that’s not where I wanted to stay for the next seven or eight years.
“It worked and I have ended up at a great club in Ipswich. It has been a good year for me, I have really enjoyed it.
“Football-wise I have been doing well and I am enjoying myself away from the pitch too.
“I am playing a bit wider, so it’s a bit tougher to get in on the goals, but the wins are the most important thing.
“We had a break from the league and now we just want to get back at it and get some points.
“We know this league is a tight one. Whether or not we are in the top six now, it only matters where you are on May 7