Connor: I can handle step-up

CONNOR Wickham is confident he can handle the step up to the Championship if called upon.

Derek Davis

CONNOR Wickham is confident he can handle the step up to the Championship if called upon.

The Colchester schoolboy is poised to break Jason Dozzell's 15-year-old record of being Town's youngest player and could make his Town debut against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

Blues boss Jim Magilton has confirmed Wickham will be on the bench and if he gets on in front of the Portman Road crowd at 16 years and 11 days, he will beat Dozzell's record by 45 days.

Dozzell was introduced as a substitute against Coventry City on February 4 1984 when he was 16 years and 46 days old and scored the third goal of a 3-1 win, making his the club's youngest ever scorer too.

Wickham is well aware of his predecessor's record and career but is not fazed by the possibility of making history.

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He said: "If I get the chance to play in the first team this season then I know it will be a big step up for me but I'm confident I will be okay.

“It's a physical league but that doesn't worry me. I feel ready for it.

“It's been great to be involved with the first team this week and the manager has said that I may get my chance before the season is over.

"If that happens, it will be fantastic. I've been happy with the progress I have made this season. I've scored a few goals, but to be involved with the first team will obviously be something else.

"I know Jason Dozzell has the record as the youngest player and if I beat that, it will make me very proud, but the most important thing for me is to keep improving and showing what I can do.”

With Jon Stead struggling with a back problem, Pablo Counago could partner Wickham should be introduced and the Spaniard has been impressed with the youngster who was on the books at Reading before his dad moved to Colchester due to Army duties.

He said: “Connor is a really strong player for his age. He can keep the ball well with both the left and right foot.

“He has to stay calm and not think too far ahead. He is still young and has a lot to come yet.

He is mentally prepared and aware of what he has to do and knows already how to win.

“He has quality and for his age is a very good player. Normally at 17 or 18 players are weak or have a lot to learn but you can see with Connor he is already a player.

“You can see in training what a good player he is.”

Magilton put the Philip Morant schoolboy on the seven-man bench for Town's FA Cup third round tie against Chesterfield and has watched his progress since.

He said: “Magilton said: “Connor has no fear. He has stature and confidence with two good feet. He has come into the first team squad and taken to it like a duck to water. We can't forget though he is a young boy even if he doesn't look it.”

“Jordan has been unlucky if he had not been injured he could have played.

“If they are good enough they will be pushed through and will be on my bench or in my team so obviously those that have gone before have not been good enough.”

Defender Tommy Smith also has a chance of game before the season's end after coming back from a broken ankle.

Magilton said: “Tommy is progressing nicely and we are trying to get him a game.”