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Academy Column

PUBLISHED: 22:19 13 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

IT IS strange to think that Ipswich Town' s two Darrens, Bent and Ambrose are still eligible for academy football now that they have become first-team regulars and also have England Under-21 caps, writes David Vincent.

IT IS strange to think that Ipswich Town' s two Darrens, Bent and Ambrose are still eligible for academy football now that they have become first- team regulars and also have England Under-21 caps.

Both featured briefly in the U21 friendly away in Italy on Tuesday and have returned to Portman Road with their cherished England U21 shirts.

Darren Ambrose told me: “I really enjoyed the whole experience. Everyone made me feel really welcome and part of the team. The spirit is really good.

“I hope I get the chance to be involved again.”

Tomorrow they will be on the touchline at the ITFC training centre at Playford Road, Rushmere, but only as spectators supporting their pals in Town's U19 and U17 fixtures.

The first team has a break from action until Wednesday's eagerly anticipated home clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers. So it's a chance for fans too to catch up on the next batch of talent.

The headlines from Wednesday night's 3-0 reserve win over Arsenal may have been taken by John McGreal and Martijn Reuser, but it was a victory built on youth.

In total 11 of the 16 players on duty have played for Town's academy sides and a few of them are likely to be involved this weekend.

Midfielder Antonio Murray, who came on as a late second-half substitute against the Gunners for John McGreal, is likely to get a full 90 minutes against Wednesday.

Striker Dean Bowditch, a scorer on Wednesday, is now away with England so won't be included.

The U19s fixture with Crystal Palace kicks off at 11 am and the U17 clash with Sheffield Wednesday at 1.30 pm.

Sheffield, like Town, are having to economise when wealthier clubs would have booked a hotel for Friday night.


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