Eastman is a keen fan of Keane

HE was shouted at once or twice, but that doesn’t stop Tom Eastman claiming to be one of Roy Keane’s biggest fans.

HE was shouted at once or twice, but that doesn’t stop Tom Eastman claiming to be one of Roy Keane’s biggest fans.

Centre-half Eastman, who took the big decision to leave his boyhood club Ipswich Town over the summer, is in line to make his Colchester United league debut at Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.

Eastman played 10 league games under Keane at Portman Road, as a raw 18-year-old mostly playing out of position as a right-back, but he never had a look-in under Keane’s successor, Paul Jewell.

That’s why he decided to up sticks, reject the offer of a short six-month contract with Town, and return to his native Essex on a two-year deal at Colchester.

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Loaned out to League Two high-fliers Crawley Town to get some games under his belt, Eastman was recalled by U’s boss John Ward at the start of this week, due to Magnus Okuonghae’s suspension, and injuries to fellow centre-halves Pat Baldwin and Matt Heath.

So nearly 18 months after making his Ipswich debut, Eastman is gearing up for a possible first senior league outing in a U’s shirt.

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But while the future appears bright, he will not forget the role Keane played at the start of his career.

“I’m indebted to Roy (Keane), because he gave me my chance,” explained Eastman yesterday. “I thought I played well quite well in the games that I played for Ipswich. But then came the change of manager, and not every manager is going to like you.

“Roy gave a lot of us youngsters a chance, like Troy Brown and Luke Hyam. It was good to get some experience under my belt.

“He used to put his arm around me at times, but if he needed to shout at you, then he would! And he shouted at me once or twice!

“Roy gave me my start, and hopefully he will be get back into management somewhere soon. He’s a big name.”

Keane was sacked by Town in January.

Clacton-born Eastman, who was at Ipswich for 10 years from the age of eight and celebrates his 20th birthday today, has no regrets about dropping down a division to resurrect his young career at Colchester.

He helped Crawley to chalk up a run of five straight wins during his loan stay at the Sussex club, but now he is ready to make an impact in League One.

“It was a big decision for me to leave Ipswich, but it was the best move for me at the time,” continued Eastman.

“Ipswich only offered me six months. Colchester offered me longer here (two years), which I thought would be good for my career.

“I’m not sure whether I will start on Saturday, but I’m ready to play if needed,” added Eastman, who celebrates his 20th birthday today.

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