Billy to join U's

RISING Blues star Billy Clarke will today join Colchester United on loan to help them in their push for promotion to the Championship.The 18-year-old Irish striker is due at Layer Road this morning to formally sign until the end of the season and could go straight into the U's squad to play at Scunthorpe United on Saturday.

By Derek Davis

RISING Blues star Billy Clarke will today join Colchester United on loan to help them in their push for promotion to the Championship.

The 18-year-old Irish striker is due at Layer Road this morning to formally sign until the end of the season and could go straight into the U's squad to play at Scunthorpe United on Saturday. But Ipswich Town boss Joe Royle stressed it was a loan and nothing more.

He said: “I'm delighted with Billy's progress and he has a big future here. This is a great opportunity to gain some experience in a lower league where I'm sure he is bound to score goals but it is just a loan.”


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The U's made a move for Clarke last week but Royle was reluctant to allow him out at that stage, with back-up for Alan Lee and Ricardo Fuller a little thin. But with Sam Parkin and Nicky Forster making good progress, Royle is more inclined to allow Clarke to join the League One challengers.

Royle said: “It nearly happened last week. Colchester know us and our players well and wanted Billy then but we were a little short of support for the strikers then. Sam and Nicky will play in the reserves on Friday and that makes them a little closer to playing in the first team before the end of the season.

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“Colchester have lost a little around the goal of late and they know Billy. He is sharp and knows where the goal is so I'm sure he will do well for them and gain good experience.”

Clarke made his Championship debut at Cardiff City as a substitute last November then his first start at home to QPR a couple of weeks later. But a dislocated elbow sustained in a reserve match temporarily slowed his progress. A member of last year's FA Youth Cup-winning squad, Clarke was in terrific scoring form earlier in the season, with goals for the Republic of Ireland Under-19s helping them qualify for this summer's European Championship.

Earlier this month Clarke was named among Ireland's top 20 Junior Sports Stars Awards, by The Irish Examiner, in a glitzy ceremony held in Dublin.

The U's have managed just two goals in eight league games but are still in prime position for promotion. They sit fifth in the League One table and are a point behind second-placed Brentford and both teams have a game in hand over those around them. Although Parkin and Forster are expected to play some part in Steve McCall's reserve side against West Ham at Needham Market tomorrow, neither will be involved against Hull City on Saturday.

Dean McDonald may get the nod to play up front alongside Alan Lee while Danny Haynes will also hope to get a recall after being left out of the 16 against Palace.

Ian Westlake is expected to train today after recovering from a dead leg but Jimmy Juan is unlikely to figure against the Tigers, who will not have Georges Santos among their ranks after QPR pulled out of a loan deal.

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