Injuries taking their toll

There will be a few furrowed brows at the Playford Road training centre today as the coaches attempt to put out two senior sides, both U19 and U17, in the Midlands tomorrow, writes David Vincent.

There will be a few furrowed brows at the Playford Road training centre today as the coaches attempt to put out two senior sides, both U19 and U17, in the Midlands tomorrow, writes David Vincent.

The rapid advancement of some young players, injuries and the fact that some U19s have left to find new clubs have stretched the resources.

And, much earlier than last season, the academy has virtually taken over the Town reserve side with the team featuring in the 2-2 draw at West Ham on Wednesday all current or former academy players (though to be fair there were a couple of trialists from Arsenal, Ashley Probets and Alfie Kamara).

Reserves coach Steve McCall was full of praise for his young side after that game.


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And academy assistant director Ken Goody said: "It was one of the best development games for young players I have seen for a long time against a team with full internationals in it.

"It was great experience for these lads.

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"It was great for young Sammy Morrow to be up against Gary Breen, who played in the World Cup, for example.

"After the game Glenn Roeder said to me: 'Your lads were magnificent'."

The U17s travel to Derby County tomorrow for the first of their three play-off group games. The others are against Manchester United and Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile, the U19s, with three league games to go, visit Leicester City.

Academy assistant director Ian Smith said: "It is not about winning play-offs, but doing what is right for the development of players. It is a long-term thing and more important than winning matches.

"We are happy to have got a number of boys into the senior squad this year and we're building on that because we are hoping there's a few more coming through.

"But we don't know who will be in the teams on Saturday, we are pretty thin on the ground.

"We had to wait to see how the lads have reacted to their involvement with the reserves on Wednesday.

"We might not be putting out very strong teams."

The usual answer is to promote schoolboys but that stage has already been reached with schoolboys regularly appearing in the U17s.

And, of course, 16-year-old Dean Bowditch has been promoted to the first-team squad.

In their last U17 win, 4-0 over Newcastle United, the Ipswich goals came from Scott Barron and schoolboys Liam Craig (2) and Daryll Knights.

Central defender Aidan Collins, from Chelmsford, has already turned out for the reserves this week and he has appeared in U17 and U19 fixtures.

His younger brother Jordan is also with Ipswich.

Teenage midfielder Matt Bloomfield has been away with the England Under- 20s for their friendly in Switzerland this week but is due back and will be needed.

The Under-19s are already missing the likes of Matt Robinson, Marc Smith and Guy Bonwick with long-term injuries.

The back specialist has decided Smith junior (Ian's son) needs an operation to resolve the back problem which has wiped out most of his season.

Bonwick (hand) and Robinson (broken ankle) won't play again this season either.

It is another busy weekend for the academy staff with schoolboy games, U9 to U16, on Sunday against Wimbledon.

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