Connor is best at 16 - Quinn

“CONNOR Wickham is the best 16-year-old footballer that I've ever seen!” - so insists Ipswich Town midfielder Alan Quinn.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

“CONNOR Wickham is the best 16-year-old footballer that I've ever seen!” - so insists Ipswich Town midfielder Alan Quinn.

Former Republic of Ireland international Quinn has come across many talented youngsters during his long playing career. But the 30-year-old believes that Town prodigy Wickham tops the lot.

He is certainly not surprised that a whole host of Premier League clubs are queuing up to sign centre-forward Wickham, including Aston Villa, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, when he reaches his landmark 17th birthday next March.

Despite such interest, Town will hopefully manage to retain the services of their star Academy player, who cannot sign a professional contract until March 31.

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“Connor is an unbelievable player. I can't believe that he's only 16!” enthused Quinn.

“He's a lad who has got the world at his feet. When I was 16, I didn't even know how to kick the ball as far as him.

“He's got everything. He's got a good right foot, good left foot, he can head the ball, he's a massive lad, strong, has pace and can also finish!

“He's also got the right attitude, so I hope that Ipswich can hold onto him.

“I've never known any other 16-year-old to be such a good footballer. He's amazing.

“We played an 11 versus 11 match in training this week, and he was unbelievable in that game. He's not even bothered by centre-halves like Gareth (McAuley) and Tommy (Smith).

“I've never seen anyone like him at 16,” confirmed Quinn.

Dubliner Quinn, who partnered Grant Leadbitter in central midfield during Town's last outing, a 1-1 draw at Reading, is hoping to feature against his former club Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City's unsettled front-runner, Gary McSheffrey, has been linked with a possible move to Ipswich.

McSheffrey has struggled to break into Birmingham's first team squad in the Premier League this season, although the 27-year-old has declared his intention to stay and fight for his place at St Andrew's.

Town are one of three Championship clubs reported to be tracking McSheffrey, who moved from Coventry to Birmingham in a �3m deal in the summer of 2006. The other two are Sheffield United and his old club Coventry.

“I want to play more, and I feel I have a lot to offer, but it's just getting that chance,” said McSheffrey, who was dogged by injury last season.

n Ipswich Town Under-18s will have to travel to Birkenhead for their FA Youth Cup third round tie. Tranmere Rovers beat Cambridge United 3-1 in the second round on Wednesday night, so Town face a long trip to Prenton Park on Wednesday, December 2 (kick-off 7pm).

Ipswich have won the competition three times - the last in 2005 - and will have 16-year-old striker Connor Wickham as their potential trump card.

n Asmir Begovic was stuck on the bench for both of Bosnia & Herzegovina's World Cup qualifier play-off games against Portugal. The Portuguese won both legs 1-0, with Town keeper Begovic an unused substitute in both games.

n Out-of-favour defender, Ben Thatcher, has been linked with a loan move to Southampton, although there has been no confirmation from the Saints end.

Thatcher has not featured at all for Town since the arrival of Roy Keane as manager. He has been sidelined with a knee injury for much of this time, but has not been included in any of Town's games, for the first team or the reserves.