Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna sends promotion message to Leeds United amid transfer demand

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Ipswich Town and Leicester City drew 1-1 on Monday evening with Leeds United and Southampton closing the gap on the top two.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna insists this year's Championship promotion race is 'not a challenge' for his players after they returned to the automatic places with Monday's 1-1 draw at Leicester City.

The Tractor Boys left it late to nick a point from the King Power Stadium, with on loan Jeremy Sarmiento levelling in the 89th minute after Leif Davis' first-half own-goal. It is their fifth draw in seven matches and that dip in form has allowed Leeds United and Southampton to gain ground.

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Ipswich actually kicked off on Monday night in third place, with Southampton briefly stealing an automatic promotion place and Leeds closing the gap with respective victories over the weekend. But McKenna's side have recent experience of promotion pressures and he insists there is no uneasy feeling among the squad.

"I know externally there is noise," McKenna told Sky Sports after full-time. "I've said before it's not a challenge for us. The large majority of this group were in a massive title race in League One last year and that was our approach, to never really speak about the league or points.

"There’s still 18 games to go, which is so many, it's far too early to worry about what other teams are doing. We’re just focusing on ourselves and the journey that we’re on. For us it will just remain about trying to perform, trying to improve."

Ipswich are back in the top two but what was once a comfortable gap has now closed completely. They have won just one of their last seven and goals have definitely been a problem, having failed to score in three of those seven - including a 4-0 defeat at Elland Road.

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McKenna lost starting striker George Hirst to a hamstring injury shortly after Christmas while on loan Dane Scarlett was recalled by Tottenham. It has left Ipswich short of options upfront and McKenna is expecting a striker to come in this month.

"We need to add to that department, there's no doubt about it," he added. "We've lost three strikers in the January transfer window: one loan recall (Scarlett), our starting striker (Hirst) is out for the season, or pretty much, and Freddie (Ladapo) has moved on to Charlton.

"The boys in the group are doing a good job and working really hard, but with the competitiveness of the division, we're going to need to be as strong as possible for the next 18 games."

Leeds can further close the gap when they host Norwich City in the only midweek Championship game on Wednesday. Daniel Farke's side could pull to within two points of the automatic places with victory, albeit having played a game more.

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