Dean has a point to prove
DEAN McDonald has an extra special incentive for wanting to do well against Scottish champions Rangers tonight.The exciting young talent not only wants to convince Blues boss Joe Royle he is worth a starting place in his new-look team, but is also determined to show Rangers what they have missed out on.
By Derek Davis
DEAN McDonald has an extra special incentive for wanting to do well against Scottish champions Rangers tonight.
The exciting young talent not only wants to convince Blues boss Joe Royle he is worth a starting place in his new-look team, but is also determined to show Rangers what they have missed out on.
The 19-year-old scored for Alex McLeish's side in a 5-1 friendly win over Hibernian while on trial at Ibrox, and felt he had done well in his 10-day spell, but was told there was no deal for him.
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McDonald also spent time with Leeds United and Fulham, before Ipswich took a good look at him earlier this year and offered him a one-year deal last month.
Impressive substitute appearances at Cambridge United and Boston United, where he helped set up goals for Dean Bowditch and Owen Garvan, have strengthened his case and he hopes to again catch the eye at Portman Road tonight, in front of a hoped for 20,000 fans, including a 7,000-strong Scottish contingent.
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McDonald told the EADT: “I was with them during pre-season this time last year and I scored against Hibs in a 5-1 win for the reserves, so I did quite well, but unfortunately they were unable to offer me a contract at the end of it.
“Hopefully, I will play against them and I can show them what they are missing.
“It is funny how things work out because now I'm at Ipswich and loving it here - it shows how all good things come to those who wait.”
A growing number of Town fans are seeing, and becoming bewitched, by the former Arsenal trainee's ability but tonight will be McDonald's biggest stage so far - and he can't wait.
He said: “I'm definitely relishing this game. As a youngster it was my dream to be a professional footballer, playing in front of thousands of fans, so I hope I can show what I'm capable of and then do it on a regular basis.
“Obviously, I would love to start but whatever part I play, then I will be giving 150%.
“The supporters have been good to me already and I'm pleased with the way things are going so far.”
Although the London-born talent started out as a striker, Town see him more in a wide right role, where he looks equally comfortable, and as his confidence grows so does his standing among the first-team regulars.
McDonald said: “I can play out wide, although I probably prefer to play up front through the middle, but I don't mind where I'm playing. I'm just glad to be part of the team and all of the youngsters are getting a chance at the moment.
“The step up has been quite hard and it took me a couple of weeks to get used to the standard, but I'm used to it now. The first-team players have helped all us younger players and I'm really enjoying myself - which shows in my football.”
Tonight's opponents Rangers managed without the exciting McDonald and went on to win the SPL title, with a last-day victory at Hibs while rivals Celtic slipped up at Motherwell, and the Light Blues also clinched the Scottish League Cup.