Chaffey could face Man City in Europe

Big defender Lee Chaffey could step straight from Ipswich Academy football to the UEFA Cup and find himself marking international strikers like Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Fowler and Paulo Wanchope, writes David Vincent.

Big defender Lee Chaffey could step straight from Ipswich Academy football to the UEFA Cup and find himself marking international strikers like Nicolas Anelka, Robbie Fowler and Paulo Wanchope, writes David Vincent.

Chaffey, 18, has had an offer to join top Welsh side TNS Llansantffraid FC next season.

And "the saints" have been drawn to face Manchester City in the UEFA Cup qualifying round, home and away, in August.

So Chaffey, who has played most of his football before small crowds on the practice pitches at the Ipswich Town training centre at Rushmere, could make a UEFA debut before 48,000 fans at Manchester City's new home, the City of Manchester stadium at Eastlands.


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There is also the chance the game in Wales could be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Left-back or left-sided centre-half Chaffey, from Royston, had years as a schoolboy with Ipswich and then was full-time at the Academy and played alongside the likes of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose.

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He is very strong in the air and delivers powerful free-kicks and corners.

But his route to the first team at Portman Road was blocked by the embarrasment of centre-halves on the staff last season, though some have now moved on.

Last season ahead of him at centre-half, even for the Ipswich reserves side, were the likes of Justin Miller, John McGreal, Wayne Brown, Hermann Hreidarsson, Thomas Gaardsoe, Lee Beevers and Mark Venus.

And he had Academy competition from England defender Chris Hogg and the emerging Aidan Collins.

The emergence of Matt Richards at left-back prevented Chaffey's progress in that position.

Even so he had a fine season for the Town Under-19s.

But he was one of the youngsters not offered full professional contracts at the end of their Academy period.

Chaffey told me he had been to Wales to trial for TNS and was likely to sign for them.

"I think I will enjoy it there. They are a good bunch of lads and there are other English players from the Liverpool area.

"I will be going back there in a couple of weeks for another two weeks and I hope to be signing for them.

"There are not a lot of opportunities for younger players this summer because there are so many experienced players looking for jobs.

"The Uefa Cup draw is absolute quality. Going there it was always going to be a bonus but I didn't expect this sort of draw.

"It is really exciting. It will be my birthday on August 15 so it would be a great birthday present if I got to play in Europe."

Academy director Bryan Klug said: "It would be fantastic for Lee. He was with us for quite a few years and we always knew he was a very good player.

"Unfortunately for him he got behind some very good players here and we had to let him go.

"Hopefully he will get a chance there and go on to do well."

n The other European qualifying ties involving British sides are: UEFA Champions' League – First qualifying round: Barry Town v FK Vardar (Macedonia) on July 16 and 23.

Second qualifying round: Celtic to play the winners of the first qualifying round tie between HB Torshavn (Faroe Islands) and FBK Kaunas (Lithuania). UEFA Cup – Dundee v KS Vllanzia (Albania), Cwmbran Town v Maccabi Haifa FC (Israel). Ties to be played on August 14 and 28.

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