Flying wingers are making a pre-season impression

Alex Henshall in action against Shelbourne. Photo: Gregg Brown

Alex Henshall in action against Shelbourne. Photo: Gregg Brown - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich Town’s new band of flying wingers impressed everyone during last weeks’ pre-season training camp in Ireland.

New boys Ryan Fraser and Ainsley Maitland-Niles – on season-long loans from Bournemouth and Arsenal respectively – are full of pace and trickery, while lightening quick youngsters Alex Henshall and Dylan Connolly – both very much on the fringes last season – look ready to kick on too.

The Blues’ training sessions at Carton House near Dublin were heavily based around getting the ball wide for the aforementioned quartet to take on their marker and deliver crosses into the box, and that was very much evident in the comfortable 6-0 victory over Irish second tier side Shelbourne on Saturday.

Henshall, who was signed from Manchester City last summer, burst past three players and hammered home a goal inside the first minute, with manager Mick McCarthy saying: “That’s what he’s got to do, because he went backwards at one stage. Then he had a bit of a shock to the system (going on loan to Blackpool), but he’s come back, worked really hard and I’m delighted.

“He’s given himself a chance of getting in the team.”

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Midfielder Cole Skuse was equally impressed. He said: “Alex has obviously had a good go over the summer, been in the gym, worked with a personal trainer and has returned looking very, very fit and sharp.”

Maitland-Niles – who made three substitute appearances for the Gunners last season – may only be 17, but it’s looking like he will be a central first team figure in 2015/16.

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“I’m delighted with him,” said McCarthy. “He’s only a young’un, but he’s a very good footballer. Listen, he’s an Arsenal player so that’s saying something. It’s a bit of a coup that we got him.”

Skuse concurred, saying: “I can’t believe he’s only 17. For all his ability and tricks, he’s such a hard worker too. He’s going down an absolute storm with the manager.”

Striker Brett Pitman, recently recruited from Bournemouth as part of the Tyrone Mings deal, scored twice at the weekend, with Henshall, Darren Ambrose, Cole Skuse and Jay Tabb also on target.

On an apparent change in style of play, more guile being added to the grit, McCarthy said: “I think we’ve always tried to have that, but it’s just not always worked to be quite honest.

“I signed Cameron (Stewart) and Alex (Henshall) last season for that reason and we ended up with Tabby on the left – who is more of a wide midfielder than a winger – and he was different class.

“We’re trying to get more goals from midfield and wide areas because we didn’t get enough last season.”

On Stewart, who was left at home for the Ireland trip and made to play for the Under-21s, McCarthy said: “He’s available (for transfer).”

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