Bowditch set for derby debut

JOE Royle firmly believes if you are good enough you are old enough and 16-year-old Dean Bowditch is about to discover how true that is, writes Derek Davis.

JOE Royle firmly believes if you are good enough you are old enough and 16-year-old Dean Bowditch is about to discover how true that is, writes Derek Davis.

The young England striker scored a superb consolation goal for Ipswich as they went down to reserve league leaders Derby and fired himself into the first-team squad to face Norwich City on Sunday.

Alun Armstrong went to hospital last night with a suspected broken wrist and with Marcus Bent pulling up with a hamstring pull in training and Pablo Counago suspended, Bowditch is on standby to join the big boys.

Another striker, Richard Naylor, was due to play in defence last night but he pulled out just before the game due to illness, which allowed 17-year-old Scott Mitchell to step up and 15-year-old schoolboy Aidan Collins went on to the bench.

Collins replaced Hogg on the hour to make his debut and give a glimpse of yet another top talent to emerge from the youth ranks. He almost marked the occasion with a goal when he got on the end of a Martijn Reuser free-kick but headed wide.

When Armstrong went off moments before the break after landing awkwardly in the side netting following a robust aerial challenge, Martijn Reuser and 20-year-old James Pullen were the only non-teenagers in the side.

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That meant first-teamer Matt Richards was almost a veteran compared to his young team-mates.

He said: "We are having to learn fast but it will do us all good. Having the experience and quality of people like Martijn and Alun helps pull us along enormously.

"We have a lot of young players but we do get a chance as I found out. There are a few days to go before Sunday and to see who is in the squad but hopefully I will be involved. It is a massive game for the club and one I would love to be involved in."

England under-18 international Chris Hogg was handed the skipper's armband and made an important contribution in the opening minute when he intercepted a pass bound for the unmarked Izale McLeod.

A couple of minutes later he bowled over Derby's Barry Molly and McLeod sent Pullen the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Derby grabbed a second when a McLeod cross was headed in by Marcus Tudgay from eight yards.

The third came when Craig Burley crossed wide for Lee Holmes to put back in and McLeod headed home from six yards.

Mcleod made his senior league debut for Derby against Ipswich earlier this season and rather embarrassingly whipped his shirt off for a wild celebration only to find the goal had been disallowed.

Former Scotland international Burley has recently recovered from an Achilles problem but could soon be on his way to Sheffield United.

It was another young England representative that restored a little pride for Ipswich as Bowditch scored a terrific individual goal, beating one defender and holding off another before finishing well.

Bowditch chipped over the bar and had another shot deflected wide, although no corner was given.

Town claimed a penalty for hand-ball in the first half, Derby had one turned down in the second.

Derby remain top of the reserve table and are hoping to win it for the third time in four seasons after Ipswich interrupted their run last season by winning the championship.

Ipswich Town: Pullen, Bloomfield, Richards, Chaffey, Mitchell, Hogg (Collins, 60) Murray, Westlake, Armstrong (Morrow, 46) Bowditch (Robinson, 85) Reuser. Subs not used: Peat, Okay.

Derby County: Camp, Turner, Palmer, Molloy, Mills, Deans, Murray, Burley, McLeod (Kuduzovic, 60) Tudgay, Holmes (Hunt, 63) Subs not used: Robinson, Hamilton, Harmanien.

Referee: M Thorpe. Attendance: 525

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