Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna makes bold Leeds United claim amid early promotion 'plans'

Leeds United sit just one point behind the Tractor Boys in the race for automatic promotion.
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Kieran McKenna believes his Ipswich Town side are up against some of the Championship’s strongest ever teams in Leeds United, Leicester City and Southampton.

Ipswich are top of the table after 40 games and a point clear of Leeds in second, having only come up from League One last season. The Tractor Boys have defied all odds to stay in the race for a second consecutive promotion and are financial minnows against the trio receiving Premier League parachute payments worth tens-of-millions.

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Southampton remain on the fringes of the automatic promotion battle but it is Leeds and Leicester posing the biggest threat, with Premier League-quality players and budgets far beyond the rest of the league. The current top three could all feasibly end the season on 100 points in a historic promotion race, and McKenna is enjoying the tense run-in against some of the second-tier’s strongest outfits.

"We'd have to say we wouldn't have thought we'd be where we are in terms of points accumulated at this stage," McKenna told Sky Sports. "But we don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. It's about building and continuing the journey we've been on. We've focused on imposing ourselves on the league and bringing our identity to the Championship. I'm delighted we've managed to do that.

"It's been two incredible seasons we've been a part of, and we have to look at the positives of being involved in it. The teams we are competing with are as strong as we've ever seen at the top of the Championship. It's a mixture of that, and everyone really performing well and pushing each other.”

That Ipswich sit top with just six games remaining is testament to the work McKenna is doing but with Leeds and Leicester only one and two points behind respectively, the dream of promotion could end with one slip up. All three won on Easter Monday and Daniel Farke’s side are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run, and so no one at any club is getting ahead of themselves and things are no different at Portman Road.

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"We've had some initial discussions [about promotion], because we can't wait until the summer to decide what our squad will look like depending on what league we're in," McKenna added. "But those conversations have been pretty minimal. Ninety-nine per cent of all planning always goes into the next game.

"Of course it would be incredible for the town. But we've not planned how the celebration would feel. We're deeply rooted in reality. We know the level of competition, and there's still such a long way to go. It's not our job to dream, it's our job to do."

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