'I know he will always be a Portsmouth boy at heart, but he has embraced Ipswich': Why Conor Chaplin is the Tractor Boys' 'poster boy' and fan favourite
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Through leading scorer feats, impressive displays as a number 10, or extensive community work, supporters of the Tractor Boys have taken the 25-year-old to their hearts.
Now in his second season at Portman Road, the former Pompey striker is blossoming under boss Kieran McKenna.
Chaplin remains a Fratton favourite, as illustrated by the tremendous reception as he left the pitch in Ipswich’s October 2021 encounter at Fratton Park.
According to the East Anglian Daily Times’ Ipswich writer Andy Warren, similarly he is idolised by the Tractor Boys faithful.
And Blues followers will be able to observe it for themselves in Saturday’s visit to their League One promotion rivals.
Warren told The News: ‘Conor is a very popular figure among supporters, one of the poster boys for this Ipswich squad.
‘He was a bit in and out under Paul Cook as the manager searched for a winning formula, but is now a regular and playing far better for it.
‘Conor won the PFA Vertu Motors' Fans' League One August Player of the Month – and has actually played even better in September.
‘Under Kieran McKenna, if he’s fit then he starts. Although there’s the odd game he sits on the bench, such as at Burton in August where it was recognised there would be a serious aerial bombardment that night.
‘If I were to list the current best performers this season, it would be goalkeeper Christian Walton, skipper Sam Morsy, midfielder Lee Evans – and Conor Chaplin.
‘In terms of the system, Freddie Ladapo operates as the central striker, with Conor operating as the right-sided attacker behind. If it’s a three behind, then he goes in the middle as the number 10.
‘We know he’s a striker at heart – and he is allowed to play some elements of that – but the 25-year-old has adapted his game to more of an attacking midfielder.
‘To be fair to him, it took a little time to adjust, but he’s getting better and better at it, adding to his natural instinct at getting into good goal-scoring positions and finishing.
‘What he’s really good at is moving the ball from under his feet to get shots off, while he’s lethal when the ball is pulled back to him lurking anywhere from the penalty spot to the edge of the D.
‘We’ve never actually ever seen Conor play as an out-and-out striker at Ipswich, but he has still made a real impact with 17 goals for the club.’
Since arriving at Ipswich for an undisclosed fee from Barnsley in July 2021, Chaplin has made 59 appearances.
And this season he struck six times in 12 outings, yet without a goal in his last three games.
He added: ‘Conor’s a good character who has really bought into the club and its direction as a whole.
‘He has become a trustee of the Ipswich Town foundation, the club’s charitable cause, sitting on the board. It shows he has really taken the club into his heart and become part of the community.
‘I know he will always be a Pompey boy at heart, but he has embraced Ipswich and made an impact on and off the pitch.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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