Hogg knows he has no future at Town
FOOTBALL can be such a cruel mistress, writes Derek Davis.For every Darren Bent and Ian Westlake there are dozens who fall by the wayside.At Ipswich Town there is a player who has just been selected for the England Under- 20s to play Holland next week and has captained his country at every level since a 15-year-old schoolboy.
FOOTBALL can be such a cruel mistress, writes Derek Davis.
For every Darren Bent and Ian Westlake there are dozens who fall by the wayside.
At Ipswich Town there is a player who has just been selected for the England Under- 20s to play Holland next week and has captained his country at every level since a 15-year-old schoolboy.
Chris Hogg plays for the Blues reserves tonight against Arsenal at Barnet's Underhill Stadium, painfully aware that he will never play for the Town first team.
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While others have floundered with just not quite enough talent or left the game through injury, Hogg has failed to push on to the standards expected of him.
Town paid York City £150,000 for him as a 16-year-old and part of the deal meant City would benefit financially should he make his full first-team debut.
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That in itself would have added an extra hurdle for Hogg to overcome, and expectations of the Middlesbrough-born centre-back were enormous.
While Matt Richards, Dean Bowditch, Ian Westlake, Scott Barron, Scott Mitchell among others pushed on, Hogg was left treading water.
A combination of injuries and personal problems coincided with the George Burley sacking and the arrival of Joe Royle.
Quite simply he did not impress the new boss and has been told he can leave on a free transfer anytime now during the last year of his contract.
The 19-year-old is clearly devastated and has taken time to get used to the idea but is being realistic.
Hogg said: "Ideally I would stay at Ipswich Town but I know deep down what the situation is and that is not going to happen.
"If not, as I'm a northern lad, I would prefer to go back there and play, but it doesn't always work like that.
"I would like somewhere that is a decent football club."
Despite a couple of low moments, Hogg has never lost confidence and still has his desire to succeed.
He added: "It is frustrating for me because I know I can do it at this level. It is just that chances have been hard for me to come by here.
"When the Gaffer came in I didn't perform at a higher level and his first impression of me was not very good. It has been hard for me, the last 18 months."
Quite why things have not worked out for the defender is difficult to pin-point.
Hogg said: "I can't put my finger on it. I was making mistakes back then, which I'm not now making.
"Other players pushed on and I never did at the time.
"I'm confident enough in my ability, I know I can do it, but it is a case of getting it out of me.
"It is putting in the big performances when it matters."
Although the realisation is dawning ever more on him, he still retains a hope that Royle will bite the financial bullet and play him, especially with the squad as thin as it is now.
Hogg said: "Ipswich is a great club and you grip on to every last little sniff of a chance at this club because you just don't want to leave this place and these people.
"If you have to leave then sometimes it can be a good thing, but my feeling is it won't be anywhere as good as being here."
Hogg is also realistic enough to know that while he may get regular football elsewhere, he has had it made in many respects at Portman Road.
An ill-fated spell at Boston United where he was doing well under Neil Thompson all went wrong when Steve Evans returned as boss.
Hogg admitted: "Going to Boston last year was a real eye-opener for me. We had to do things like take our own kit home to be washed, we trained on local playing fields and it was things like that.
"I'm hoping something like that will happen to me. It is clear things are not going to work out for me so I'm using what is left of my time here to improve myself in training. I'm playing in the reserves and I feel I have been performing quite well and that is keeping my confidence high.
"Hopefully something will come along and I will move on soon."
There was talk about him going to Darlington but the Quakers have not followed up their initial interest.
Hogg is named in Steve McCall's squad to face the Gunners tonight, kick off 7pm at Barnet. Shane Supple is the only keeper selected with Lewis Price being wrapped in cotton wool in case Kelvin Davis suffers a relapse of a back injury.
Tonight's Town squad
Supple, Hogg, Collins, Sobers, Barron, Flack, Mitchell, Dinning, Murray, Craig, Garvan, Bowditch, Counago, Knights, Clarke and Manning.