Connor’s tailor-made for Town

ROY Keane’s search for a 15-to-20 goal marksman for next season might already be over, without even dipping into the transfer market.

And who is this striker who fits the bill? Connor Wickham, of course!

Keane still wants to attract new front-runners to Portman Road for next season, but 2010-11 looks like being a big season for Ipswich Town’s teenage sensation.

Wickham once again took the plaudits with a man-of-the-match display at champions Newcastle United on Saturday, as well as bagging his fourth goal in his last eight appearances in the 2-2 draw on Tyneside.

He also had a hand in Jon Walters’ injury-time equaliser.

The 17-year-old’s performance drew praise from both manager and team-mates, although boss Keane remains cautious.

“Connor showed his class. He was outstanding, playing up front on his own,” enthused Keane.

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“But we can’t be dependent on a boy who’s just turned 17 to get us out of the Championship. It doesn’t happen, and it won’t happen.

“For any team that gets promoted from this league, you need two or three boys at least in double figures. But we’ve got not one player in double figures this season.”

Skipper Walters is Town’s top scorer, tucking home his eighth of the season with the last ditch equaliser at St James’ Park, while both Wickham and Sunderland loanee Daryl Murphy both have six goals to their name.

Murphy dropped into wide-midfield against Newcastle, with Wickham as the lone striker. And the system worked well, thanks to Wickham’s strong performance.

Keane continued: “Connor scored a top goal and his overall play was very good, including his movement.

“It was a very mature performance and I think, particularly next year away from home, if we want to play one or two different systems we know Connor is very capable of playing up front for us on his own. He gives us that option now, when we haven’t really had the right balance this season.

“As long as you’ve got that good striker, you see a lot of the good teams doing it, and we have that at the moment in Connor.

“But to ask a young boy to do that over the course of a season is difficult. He needs more help, though I thought he got good help around him today.”

Full-back David Wright was also quick to compliment team-mate Wickham, believing that the young striker’s performance helped the team defensively as well.

“Connor gave us a real good platform because the ball never kept coming back,” explained Wright.

“Full credit to him. When it came to him he made it stick. That was exactly what we needed when playing five across the midfield.

“Connor is a great, great talent. If he keeps improving the way he’s doing, then hopefully he will be that man to get 20 goals for us next season.

“But you have to remember that he’s only just turned 17 years of age, so we can’t be pinning all our hopes on him.

“I’ve trained with him so I’ve seen him day in day out. I know what he’s like and it’s no surprise to me how well he’s been doing,” concluded Wright.

Wickham’s 42nd minute goal cancelled out Andy Carroll’s 27th minute opener for Newcastle, before Walters’ injury-time goal levelled Shola Ameobi’s 84th minute penalty.

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