Flynn Downes ‘will play in the first team now’, says Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy says he would be more than willing to put teenager Flynn Downes into his starting line-up for the Championship opener against Birmingham City if his lengthy midfield injury list does not clear up.
Essex-born academy graduate Downes, 18, has really caught the eye in pre-season, so much so that the club moved to tie him down to a three-year deal recently.
Emyr Huws (calf/Achilles), Tom Adeyemi (illness), Cole Skuse (illness), Luke Hyam (ankle), Teddy Bishop (groin) and Andre Dozzell (hip) were all absent for this afternoon’s 2-1 friendly defeat at League One side Gillingham, with Downes again impressing alongside the transfer-listed Kevin Bru in the middle.
McCarthy said: “Flynn came back in pre-season as fit as anybody, really impressed with the way he was training and playing, so I said to (owner) Marcus (Evans) ‘sign him up and get him on a long-term deal’. He’ll play in the first team now, no question.”
Asked if the teenager had a chance to start the Championship opener against Birmingham, at Portman Road, in a fortnight, the Blues boss replied: “Well, I’ve got plenty of injured and sick midfield players. If he gets in the team there will be a few worrying because he’ll be hard to dislodge.
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“We’re only two weeks to the start now. Tom (Adeyemi) and Emyr (Huws) are probably struggling. (Cole) Skusey will be alright, but I’d have no worries at all playing Flynn Downes.
“In training he goes and nails people. He passes it forwards, he’s not negative coming back and hitting it square. He’s an all-round central midfield player who’s only going to get better.
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“There’s been nobody better than him in pre-season. It is only pre-season, but if I wanted to play him I’d have no worries about it because he’d go and perform.”
Town dominated a goalless first half at Priestfield Stadium, but fell behind to a harshly awarded penalty won by ex-Blues winger Lee Martin and Scott Wagstaff’s super strike before Danny Rowe’s header halved the deficit.
Asked if the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game, McCarthy said: “Not really, no. That’s the beauty of pre-season friendlies – I can be slightly less bothered. If we’d played like that in the first half in a league game and came away having lost I’d be chewing.
“I’d had preferred to have got something, but there were positives. We’re trying to play more on the floor and I think we’ve been doing that in pre-season. In the first half we were excellent.
“There were some good blocks, some saves, a couple of misses, but I was really pleased with the first half performance. Second half not much was happening until a penalty changes it. We didn’t move the ball as quick, didn’t create as many chances, they sat back at 1-0 looking to catch us on the break and got a wonder goal worthy of winning any game, in any league, in any country.
“I was delighted that Danny Rowe scored because I think he needs that for his own confidence.”
Asked if there was any news on his search for another striker, McCarthy replied: “No, no news at all.” Asked if there are any bids in, he just stared and smiled. “You can push me,” he quipped. “But I don’t move very far when pushed though!”
Are there any players likely to leave Portman Road?
“I’ve had no calls from anybody,” he said. “Kevin Bru was available to go until I got five midfield players injured. Fair play to Kevin, he’s come back in good shape and played well.”
Town face Colchester United, at The Weston Homes Community Stadium, on Tuesday night.
“Andre Dozzell might be available,” said McCarthy. “A lot of the ones who didn’t start today will start in the next one. Webbo (Adam Webster) will, Dominic (Iorfa) will – and he’ll start at centre-half, not at right-back – Didzy (David McGoldrick) will start.”