THERE’S a palpable sense of excitement around Portman Road at the moment.

Unusual, perhaps, for a club that suffered relegation last season.

However, with an unbeaten start and both club and fans singing from the same hymn sheet, it’s no wonder the feelgood factor is back in Town - with midfield linchpin Cole Skuse at the very heart of proceedings.

Signed by former boss Mick McCarthy in the summer of 2013 on a Bosman free transfer after Bristol City’s relegation to League One, the combative 33-year-old has been an ever-present fixture at the base of the midfield, making an impressive 250 appearances in the process.

This season has seen his role within the line-up become even more prominent.

Young players such as Flynn Downes, in particular, have benefited, with the calming, no-nonsense approach of Skuse alongside him.

The duo have been integral in the middle of the park, playing their part in a six-match unbeaten league start to the season.

However, Skuse finds himself in the last year of his current contract, though the club do have the option to extend that by a further 12 months should they wish.

It’s as if once you reach the landmark age of 30+ you are constantly being judged on whether you have ‘still got it’ and up to the standard you are being asked to produce week in, week out.

By next March, Skuse turns 34 and maybe that might come into Paul Lambert’s thoughts as he considers his team for the future.

However, at least another year at Portman Road should not be ruled out, going on current form.

Skuse has had his critics over the years.

However, many are quick to forget the job he does on and off the pitch.

On the field, he is a tough-tackling, enforcing midfielder who looks to spray the ball at any given opportunity, bringing his more attack-minded colleagues into the game - the engine that keeps the team ticking over.

Away from the pitch, Skuse is a livewire and one of the jokers in the pack but it’s clear to see that he takes his role seriously when advising younger pros how to become better players, alongside club captain Luke Chambers.

The duo have been the heartbeat of the club for a number of years.

Personally, Skuse is probably my favourite player from the current crop.

His ability to break up play and produce a solid tackle often gets the crowd up on their feet.

Overall, I believe he is underrated and missed when he is not in the side due to injury.

Is his job as attractive as someone such as James Norwood, who is responsible for putting the ball in the back of the net?

No - but his role is just as important.

Who could forget his power drive at home to Cardiff City in April 2015. The net was well and truly broken that night.

It was that evening, after we had all finished our joyous celebration in the stands, I sat down next to my friend and said “you are looking at the Championship’s Steven Gerrard” (with tongue in cheek, of course).

I admit, I got carried away a little bit.

But I am pleased to say the tag of the Championship’s Steven Gerrard has stuck, with only one enforced change - he is now referred to my friends and I as ‘League One’s Steven Gerrard.’

What this season promises for Ipswich fans is the chance to finally see a team full of confidence looking to win football matches, a glimpse of the homegrown players tipped for big futures and a push to get straight back in the Championship.

It's something Skuse will undoubtedly be heavily involved in.