Connor's a hero - at school

AT the tender age of just 15, Connor Wickham is already getting used to sporting hero status, even if it is just among his school pals for now.

Derek Davis

AT the tender age of just 15, Connor Wickham is already getting used to sporting hero status, even if it is just among his school pals for now.

Wickham banged in a hat-trick as Town won a gripping extra time battle against Crystal Palace to win through to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup and a home tie with Watford at Portman Road on Monday, 7pm kick off.

But he had already achieved star status among his school pals at Colchester's Philip Morant school as a Town player, without even kicking a ball, when he ambled up the touchline as one of the seven substitutes named in the FA Cup tie against Chesterfield in January.

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Wickham said: “The Crystal Palace game was an amazing game to be involved in. It was a very tough match, going into extra time but we deserved to come out on top.

“Obviously it was fantastic to get a hat-trick as well - the first one was definitely mine when I got my head on Ronan Murray's shot.

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“It was strange going back to school the following day but my friends has been very supportive.

“They have backed me all the way and are always congratulating me if I have done well.

“A lot of them are Ipswich season ticket holders and some were at the Palace game. Some will be at the Watford game as well.

“They were also at the Chesterfield match when I was sub for the first team.

“People at school were coming up to me and saying 'I saw you walking down the touchline with Jon Walters on Saturday'. It was a bit strange.”

Wickham, who is being tipped to make his senior debut this season, was quickly picked up by Town after moving to Colchester from reading, where he had been a member of their academy from aged eight until 12.

His dad is in the Army and so moved to the garrison town for his work and reading's loss is clearly Town's gain although Wickham is keeping his feet firmly planted.

He said: “I just want to do as well as I can in my GCSEs this year and then I can concentrate on my football.”

The exams are later in the term and Wickham, who has been a regular member of Town's first team, is looking to help his contemporaries continue their FA Youth Cup tradition.

He said: “The club has a reputation for doing well in the competition and it will be great to carry that on this season and win the trophy.”

He also admits to enjoy the big game occasion and evening football at Portman Road.

“I'm really looking forward to the Watford game and the chance to play at Portman Road again.

“The FA Youth Cup are special games, there is a different feel about it. With the Academy League games, you get up on a Saturday morning and you are playing an hour or so later but with the youth cup, you have all day to think about the match and get your preparation right.

“Playing at Portman Road is a massive difference as well, playing in front of a big crowd on the main pitch.”

Wickham is likely to be partnered up front by the academy's leading scorer Ronan Murray who played a crucial part in the 4-2 epic against Palace in the last round along with Bermudan international Reggie Lambe who also netted.

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