'We believed - Ipswich Town man reveals when promotion conversations started amid Leeds United race

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The Tractor Boys were often written off but ended up piping Leeds United to a top-two finish.

Axel Tuanzebe has revealed that talk of automatic promotion was present at Ipswich Town as early as September.

Ipswich defied all odds to secure a second consecutive promotion after pipping Leeds United to second place on the final day. The Tractor Boys managed to rediscover form at the perfect time, winning their last two to join Leicester City as a Premier League team from next season.

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Having only come up from League One last season, Ipswich were widely expected to drop off as the three recently relegated sides - Leicester, Leeds and Southampton - fought it out. But McKenna’s men bounced back from the drop in form that eventually affected every team to get back into the top-flight and condemn both Leeds and Southampton to the drama of play-off football.

Throughout the campaign, manager McKenna constantly swatted away talk of promotion and insisted that was not the focus among himself and the players. But it seems the goal was always to fight it out with the league’s top sides and those conversations were happening from the off.

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"I had conversations with the manager before I came and this (promotion) is something that we spoke about," Tuanzebe, who signed as a free agent in September, told the East Anglian Daily Times. "Some people might have thought it was unrealistic, but we believed.

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“We had a plan set out and we've executed a plan. Just look at the celebrations. Everybody's happy. It's clear what this means to the club and what it means to Suffolk. It's amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to something.”

Ipswich return to the Premier League following a 22-year absence, with four of those in League One - a picture similar to that of Leeds before promotion under Marcelo Bielsa in 2019/20. Daniel Farke’s side can still join them and Leicester but will have to do so via the play-offs, a route they have attempted and failed five times in the past.

Leeds go to sixth-placed finishers Norwich City on Sunday before the return leg at Elland Road a week on Thursday. The winner of that tie will meet one of Southampton or West Bromwich Albion in the final at Wembley on Sunday, May 26.