Garvan pushing for start

AT first sight Owen Garvan looks an ungainly sort of player.His running style lacks elegance and his lanky Irish frame needs filling out.But, like the Tardis, first impressions can be so very deceiving.

By Derek Davis

AT first sight Owen Garvan looks an ungainly sort of player.

His running style lacks elegance and his lanky Irish frame needs filling out.

But, like the Tardis, first impressions can be so very deceiving.

After a few minutes, the talent is latent and football aficionados on both sides of the Irish Sea gush with praise for the 17-year-old.

A tenacious midfielder, Garvan reads the game expertly, passes with an efficiency that his skipper Jim Magilton is famed for and has a mental toughness and intensity that epitomises Roy Keane.

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Little doubt that Garvan will go on to be a big player - and his ambition is evident.

Garvan has forced his way from youth side to first team this year and is now determined to be more than just a fringe player.

After getting his first senior start against Ujpest last Friday, Garvan has set his sights higher.

He said: “Now that I have played in the first team, I want more of it. Not just in pre-season games but when the Championship comes around.

“We do have a small squad so, hopefully, the manager will give the young players like myself a chance.

“There are also a couple of injuries so, if he doesn't bring someone else in during the meantime, we will get to play and if we do alright then we will take it on from there.

“Once you become a footballer you always want to be the best and to be in the first XI. I want to prove I'm good enough and show people what I'm made of. Hopefully, I won't let anyone down and I can do my best.”

Although he picked up a knock and was on the wrong end of two defeats, Garvan feels he benefitted from the Hungarian experience. He had already shone as a substitute against Rangers and in wins at Cambridge United and Boston United.

Garvan said: “I enjoyed the tour and getting to play my first full game was very good but it was just a pity about the results.

“I'm glad to be playing more and more in the first team and that can only help me. You learn from the better players around you and they help you. You are also playing against better opposition and that helps bring you on and you can only get better when that happens.”

Getting better is something the Dubliner is fiercely intense about. He shrugs aside praise but soaks up advice and criticism from coaches and constantly questions and analyses his, and everyone else's, game.

A dedicated trainer, Garvan spent his summer hitting the weights in an effort to bulk up and recover from an illness which forced him to miss the second leg of the FA Youth Cup victory over Southampton.

Garvan said: “I have built up a little but I know I need to build up a lot more, especially with the Championship games coming up. Normally pre-season games are not so physical and they usually let you play and the best football team wins. But when the Championship starts, I know the challenges will be coming in and that is when I will be able to tell if I'm physical enough.

“There are also two games a week, so it is a long hard season, but we will see.”

A versatile midfielder who likes to get forward, Garvan has been used recently sitting deep, picking the ball up from the back four and feeding the likes of Ian Westlake and Magilton, a position he philosophically accepts.

The Irishman added: “I'm happy to be playing and wherever the manager tells me to play is fine by me.”

Perhaps Garvan's awareness of what is needed is helped by the fact that his family on his mother Mary's side has a rich footballing tradition.

His uncle is Mick Martin, the former Manchester United star, while grandfather Con played for Aston Villa, and both represented Eire.

Dad Gerry played a big part in his early footballing education, managing his teams from under eight to 16.

Garvan said: “My family are very supportive. My grandad and my uncle both played for Ireland, and people may be saying I could be next, but there is no real pressure on me because I will just do my normal thing.

“If I make it, I make it and if I don't they will be supporting me anyway.”

His family made their way over from Dublin in May in the hope of seeing him make his full debut but it was not to be then.

They will not have to wait long, that is for sure.

“They came over when I was on the bench at Brighton and I'm sure they will be over in numbers if I do get to play.”

Garvan may be young but he knows the game well enough to recognise that the Championship is going to be a difficult road for Town to negotiate.

He said: “It is going to be a hard season for us, especially with the quality of the players that have left. Even though we have got good quality players that have come in it is going to take a while for the team to gel. It is going to be difficult but I'm sure we will be able to get through that.”

Being on tour with fellow Irishmen Chris Casement and Shane Supple, along with fellow Youth Cup winners Aidan Collins and Liam Trotter, made life easier for Garvan on the trip to Budapest. He feels so many players coming through together, as they have so successfully at Manchester United, can be a good thing, with the help of older heads.

Garvan said: “It is good for a lot of the younger lads that we are all together. We are integrating with the senior players so it is a good mix but it does help when you have other younger lads with you when you are travelling around.

“Jim has been a good player for this club and is a real character off the pitch. He helps the younger lads settle in and he is always taking to us about what we can do to be better players, what we can improve and that helps us.”

Should Garvan continue to improve the way he has, he will blossom into yet another outstanding Irish export and, while he may never look the most stylish of players, he could be one of the most effective to come out of the wonderfully productive Ipswich Academy.

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