Balkestein wants left back berth

PIM Balkestein today had a message for Ipswich Town manager Jim Magilton.

Elvin King

PIM BALKESTEIN today had a message for Ipswich Town manager Jim Magilton.

The young Dutch defender said: “I want the number three berth.”

Earmarked to become a professional footballer since before he could walk, the son of a former Dutch international has impressed his new boss in the Blues' last two friendly games.

He caught the eye if Saturday's 2-1 win against West Brom in Balkestein's first appearance at Portman Road.

Magilton is still searching for a left-side player who will provide the right grit and give the right balance to his side.

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A number of players have been tried with talks still going on with Ben Thatcher, Czech Republic international Rudi Skacel having been shown round the club and Honduran left-sided midfielder or full-back Emilio Izaguirre currently on trial.

Even Quinton Fortune has been on Magilton's radar.

But Balkestein, picked up from the lower reaches of the Heerenveen squad, insisted: “I played at left back in the early part of my career before being turned into a central defender.

“I am happy playing in that role, and I want the number three berth when the season starts.”

Town play at Brighton tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if Magilton sticks with the youngster who reminds him of ex-Town defender Hermann Hreidarsson.

“To be honest I have never heard of Hermann,” Balkestein, who was kicking a ball in his back garden with his father Luuk as soon as he was a toddler.

With his father's injury over at the age of 28 after an ankle injury, Balkestein has always been steered towards a footballing career.

His father played internationally with Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren and had no hesitation in recommending his son to the Blues.

“My dad encouraged me to move here, and I have no regrets at all. It is a big step and hard to take in when 500 Ipswich fans travel to a friendly away game. At Heerenveen they do not take 100 for a vital league game.”

Balkestein feels pre-season is going well, adding: “We are coming good in the final stages, which shows how fit we are.

“In Holland every team plays 4-3-3 so as a centre back you are facing one striker. In England it is mainly 4-4-2 so you have two front men to look after.“

Town picked up no injuries on Saturday although long term casualty David Norris sat out the game and Jon Walters was with his birth at the birth of their second child.