Connor set for Town debut

SCHOOLBOY hotshot Connor Wickham is in line to make his Ipswich Town debut in Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship game against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road.

Elvin King

By ELVIN KING

SCHOOLBOY hotshot Connor Wickham is in line to make his Ipswich Town debut in Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship game against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road.

The Colchester-based striker, who was 16 on March 31, has been withdrawn by the Blues from the England Under-16 squad for a tournament in France this week.


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Wickham's standing in the game is illustrated by the fact that he was one of only four players outside the Premier Division to have been selected for England's involvement in the Montaigu Tournament.

Wickham was an unused substitute in the FA Cup third round against Chesterfield in January, and Blues manager Jim Magilton has said that he plans to use the Philip Morant School pupil, Colchester front man before this season is over.

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Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Sheffield United effectively ended Ipswich's hopes of a Coca-Cola Championship play-off place, and the inclusion of the highly promising Wickham in Saturday's squad would bolster interest in what in effect is a mid-table end-of-season contest.

And if Wickham does get on the field to face promoted Doncaster, Magilton will be hoping he makes the same impact as 17-year-old Federico Macheda did for Manchester United when the Italian came on as a second half substitute and scored a spectacular stoppage time winning goal on Sunday against Aston Villa in stoppage time.

Macheda had notched a hat-trick for the Reds' reserve team last week - and Wickham scored three goals for Ipswich in an academy Under-18 4-1 victory against Southampton last Saturday.

Wickham fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net against the hapless Saints. He then surged beyond three defenders before firing low past helpless Slovenian international keeper Wickham completed his hat-trick with a neat turn and finish following a fine run and cross by Reggie Lambe.

Wickham now has 12 goals for Town's under-18's this season, and he played a leading role in Ipswich's run in the FA Youth Cup that was ended with a fifth round defeat 3-2 defeat by Watford.

He is off school this week because of the Easter holidays and will be training with the first team squad. Wickham will be joining Town as a full time scholar in the summer after he has taken his school exams.

Wickham has two England Under-16 caps, scoring in the victory over Scotland in November. He also won four caps at Under-17 level last summer at the Nordic Tournament in Denmark in which England annually field a U-16 squad despite the competition being for the older age group.

Ipswich could have Giovani Dos Santos and Jon Walters available after injury against Doncaster, but skipper Gareth McAuley and full back David Wright are facing fitness battles after also missing the defeat at Bramall Lane.

The rest of the England Under-16 squad is: Chuks Aneke (Arsenal), Nicholas Yennaris (Arsenal), Jack Butland (Birmingham), Alex Billington (Blackburn), Jordan Cousins (Charlton), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jack Robinson (Liverpool), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool), John Cofie (Manchester United), William Keane (Manchester United), Ravel Morrison (Manchester United), Tom Thorpe (Manchester United), Bruno Pilatos (Middlesbrough), Jak Alnwick (Newcastle), George Thorn (WBA) and Robert Hall (West Ham).

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