Academy younsters aim for play-offs

Ipswich Town's Under-17s travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow aiming to prolong their season into the knock-out phase of their end-of-season play-offs, writes David Vincent.

Ipswich Town's Under-17s travel to Crystal Palace tomorrow aiming to prolong their season into the knock-out phase of their end-of-season play-offs, writes David Vincent.

Already the Town youngsters have drawn 1-1 at Derby County and then defeated a star-studded Manchester United side at home on April 5.

Town won a pulsating game 2-1, fighting back from a goal down, with substitute Dean Bowditch playing a big part in both goals.

Striker Craig Reid grabbed them both, one from the penalty spot.


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Several of these youngsters were involved in the Town reserves' 2-1 win over Charlton Athletic on Wednesday and Joe Royle's decision over whether to include Dean Bowditch in his first-team squad tomorrow is a key one.

Bowditch sparkled on Wednesday and scored a great goal. Lee Chaffey hit a ball down the left wing, Alun Armstrong flicked a pass into space and Bowditch ran on to it and confidently chipped the Charlton keeper, Ben Roberts, and scored off the underside of the bar.

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From the reserves squad of 16 who played on Wednesday night, seven young players still qualify for the U17 team.

Irish schoolboy international Gerard Nash made an assured debut in the centre of defence. and is finishing the season strongly.

But he also picked up a knock and may need a late fitness test.

Liam Craig is also struggling to be fit.

The academy coaching staff will have to see how these lads from the reserves reacted to their reserve-match involvement before selecting the team.

Academy director Bryan Klug watched proudly on Wednesday at Portman Road.

"It was a great game and certainly the youngest reserve team I have known in my time here. The opportunities are certainly here for the lads who are good enough.

"We will have to see how they are in training today.

"I expect Dean will be wanted by the first team, and maybe a couple more too. I don't know what Joe is thinking.

"We will be going to meet a Palace team who have done very well.

"We don't know much about them but they must be strong defensively, they have won both of their games 1-0 away at Derby and Manchester United.

"We will go there and do our best."

Possible Ipswich squad: Croll, Synnott, Krause, Manning, Nash, Mitchell, Flack, Atay, Craig, Reid, Barron, Knights, Leabon, Hammond, Ainsley and Collins.

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