Connor's days numbered?

CONNOR Wickham's days as an Ipswich Town player appear to be numbered.

Carl Marston

by Carl Marston

CONNOR Wickham's days as an Ipswich Town player appear to be numbered.

Town's 16-year-old wonder kid could be the subject of a big battle, as the cream of the Premier League vie for the right to sign him in the new year.

Aston Villa emerged as a leading contender last week, while the top flight's big four - Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool - have all sent scouts to plot the progress of Town's Academy striker.

Although Wickham has come up through the Portman Road youth system, Town cannot sign him on a professional contract until the day of his 17th birthday, which is March 31, 2010.

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It would be very frustrating for Town if Wickham, who is a regular for England Under-17s, was to be snapped up by a high-profile Premier League outfit before he had played many games for his home club.

Wickham, a powerful centre-forward, attracted even more interest when he scored a brace in Town's Carling Cup first round tie at Shrewsbury in August.

He had previously become the youngest ever player to appear for Town's first team when appearing as a substitute against Doncaster last season, at the age of 16 years and 11 days.

If Wickham does sign for another club, on his 17th birthday, and Town cannot agree terms with the other club, then they should be entitled to compensation.

Meanwhile, Town keeper Asmir Begovic was an unused substitute as his Bosnia and Herzegovina team lost 1-0 to Portugal in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off. Bosnia have home advantage in the second leg on Wednesday.

However, several other Ipswich players did turn out for their respective countries. Tamas Priskin was a second-half substitute in Hungary's 3-0 defeat in Belgium, while Jaime Peters featured in Canada's 3-0 reverse at the hands of Macedonia. Both were friendly fixtures.

Owen Garvan skippered Republic of Ireland Under-21s to a 1-1 draw in Georgia, in their European Championship qualifying campaign. Garvan could soon be on his way from Ipswich in a loan deal, with the Championship trio of Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest and Scunthorpe all linked with the talented midfielder.

Last Friday night, Town Academy striker Ronan Murray chalked up his eighth appearance for Republic of Ireland Under-19s, in a European Championship group qualifier against San Marino. The Irish won 5-0, although Murray was not amongst the goals.