Bowditch wants youth to get its chance

EXCLUSIVE: Dean Bowditch wants youth to be given its head and is ready to re-ignite Ipswich's promotion challenge.

EXCLUSIVE: Dean Bowditch wants youth to be given its head and is ready to re-ignite Ipswich's promotion challenge, writes Derek Davis.

The 17-year-old made a telling impact when he replaced Shefki Kuqi as a half-time substitute with Town two down.

Although Millwall grabbed a controversial third straight after the break, Bowditch led a failed fightback by setting up Darren Bent's consolation strike.

The England youth striker also forced Andy Marshall into a fine save to prevent his superbly-struck volley from going in and was denied a clear-cut penalty when Kevin Muscat fouled him in the area.

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Although Bowditch has been happy to bide his time, the Essex boy is now desperate to play a bigger part in Town's fight for promotion and feels he and his fellow Academy mates can make a difference.

He said: "At the beginning of the season I was just happy to be in the squad, and still am. But I reckon I could be on now and change the game. I felt I came on and changed it against Millwall. I really enjoyed it and want to be playing as much as I can now.

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"It is a massive step for me, a big challenge but I'm ready to take it on."

Bowditch is so keen to be handed a bigger role he is willing to turn down a chance to play for England' Under-19s against Belgium at the end of the month, to play for Town.

He said: "If the manager says I should go then I will go, because I love playing for my country. But this is an important time for the club and it is a vital time for me so if I stay and play I hope to take my chance."

The youthful exuberance of Bowditch, coupled with the proven input of Ian Westlake and Matt Richards, is seen as the future for the club, but they are impatient to make an impact now and now just for the future.

Bowditch said: "All three were fantastic again. The way players are coming through the Academy is brilliant and there are others ready to break through as well.

"The next couple of years is going to be vital for all of us and hopefully we can challenge for things. I still feel we have it in us to get into the play-offs. The character of the team showed in the second half."

Bowditch's frustration at being turned down in his penalty appeal, following one when Robbie Ryan appeared to foul Ian Westlake a little earlier, was heightened when Mike Riley booked the teenager accusing him of diving. Bowditch said: "It was biggest penalty I have ever seen. I was very disappointed not to be given that. Even Kevin Muscat came up to me afterwards and said he sympathised with me. Just before mine, there had been a couple of appeals in the box and the referee had thought that's another one and booked me for it."

Town boss Joe Royle included 18-year-old Scott Mitchell on the bench, while fellow Academy product Scott Barron is also on the verge of a first-team inclusion.

Both may be needed for the trip to Walsall tomorrow, with Drissa Diallo and Georges Santos each needing stitches to head wounds.

Santos, who needed four stitches in a nose injury which he first suffered at Stoke, is the most doubtful while Diallo, who needed five stitches to a head wound, will probably play with a bandage for protection.

Millwall's Mark McCammon who lost consciousness for a while, recovered in the dressing room after treatment and Dennis Wise is confident he will be fit to be involved in their FA Cup trip to Tranmere tomorrow.

* Ipswich Town have once again been linked with Manchester United midfielder Michael Stewart as a possible loan signing.

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