Byron so close to being Blues record-breaker
PAUL Jewell has revealed that he had every intention of making schoolboy Byron Lawrence a Blues record-breaker.
But the failure of the more senior members of his Carling Cup squad to break down resolute Northampton Town stopped the 15-year-old from becoming the youngster player ever to make his Ipswich Town debut.
Jewell raised eyebrows by naming Lawrence among the 18-man squad for Tuesday night’s first round match with the vast majority of Town fans asking “Byron who?”
But the Town boss revealed that he only made up his mind over the shock inclusion after the youngster impressed in training the day before – and after he had got a note from his dad!
Jewell revealed: “He’s only 15, but he did a couple of things in training on Monday that caught my eye and I just thought ‘why not stick him on the bench?’.
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“I had hoped to get him on but in the end I decided, with the result going the way it was, it probably wasn’t the right timing.
“He’s still at school and I had to get a note from his dad to play. Actually, if the game had gone to extra-time I don’t know if he’d have been allowed to stay up that late!”
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Although unable to bring Lawrence on, Jewell is still predicting big things from the left-footed midfielder, adding: “This will still have been a great experience for him having been amongst the first team and hopefully it will urge him on to be part of it. He’s got great balance, strength, a good football brain and we hope he will be a good player for us in the future.”
And the dramatic rise of Lawrence should spur on the older members of the youth set-up, according to Academy director Sammy Morgan who admitted he was “surprised but absolutely delighted” for the teenager.
“I think this sends out a message to all our first and second-year scholars when a young player makes the bench before them,” Morgan explained.
“It also shows them that if they want it enough, there are opportunities for them.
“I think it is a great compliment to the manager to give the boy this experience of what goes on in the first team squad before, during and after the match. Whether he played or not is not of great importance.”
Lawrence captained Town’s Under-16s side in the Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland just a few weeks ago and Morgan believes he has every chance of making the grade.
He added: “He has good balance, a good left foot and a good strike. Off the pitch, he is very mature and quite humble. He has the potential to go a long way.”