Former West Ham midfielder breezes through game as Ipswich Town under-21s draw with Sheffield Wednesday counterparts

Jack Collison attempts to break away from the challenge of Ryan Meadows

Jack Collison attempts to break away from the challenge of Ryan Meadows - Credit: James Ager

Former West Ham midfielder Jack Collison played for the duration as Ipswich Town Under-21s drew 1-1 with their Sheffield Wednesday counterparts in a Professional Development League 2 game on Monday night.

Darren Ambrose in action for Ipswich

Darren Ambrose in action for Ipswich - Credit: James Ager

The game was a lively affair but proved to be nothing more than a fitness exercise for the Welsh international who sailed through 90 minutes and looked neat and tidy in possession.

It was confirmed last week that manager Mick McCarthy would not be entering into any talks with the midfielder until the end of the game and the Blues boss is unlikely to have gauged much from Collison’s neat and tidy display that he didn’t already know.

The same can be said for fellow trialist Darren Ambrose, playing mainly in a deep-lying central midfield role. He, admittedly was involved a little bit more in the game, but it would have been wrong for McCarthy to make a snap judgement against a very young Owls side, consisting of teenagers very much at the fledgling stage of their careers.

McCarthy, who created an intriguing sub-plot for a spell in the second half – his phone glued to his ear as the transfer window deadline approached – has questioned the value of the Under-21 league in the past, citing his inability to play more than three overage players, and has called for the return of a more competitive reserve league.


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Indeed, the majority of the players on the pitch last night were very inexperienced and it was left to one of the Blues’ elder statesmen, Republic of Ireland international Stephen Hunt, to show the kids how it was done – his 56th minute free-kick flying through the Wednesday wall and into the net.

For Hunt, and Tyrone Mings – the latter, subject of interest from Premier League Crystal Palace yesterday – it was a welcome game, especially for the former, who is returning from an injury lay-off.

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The infectious midfielder was everywhere, but why wouldn’t he be, with a wealth of Premier League experience behind him? Such games put players like Hunt in no-win situations. If he plays well, then he is expected to. If he looks off the pace, then questions may be raised.

Alex Henshall displayed a few tricks and showed his marker a clean pair of heels on more than one occasions while Bartosz Bialkowski looked sharp in goal, denying the scorer of Wednesday’s goal, Mani Dieseruvwe, on a couple of occasions.

The visitors, who looked shaky in the first half, stepped up to the plate in the second half and deservedly scored their equaliser two minutes after Hunt’s opener – Dieseruvwe’s right foot shot wrong-footing Bialkowski and rolling over the line.

It could have been worse two minutes later but this time Bialkowski was equal to Franck Betra’s effort.

The Polish goalkeeper also got behind a well-hit free-kick from Rafa Floro in the first-half, before palming a similar effort out to Will De Haviland, who, with the offside flag raised, headed onto the bar.

Town had chances of their own, Darren McQueen dragging a shot wide and Henshall forcing a good save from Joe Wildsmith, with a long-range shot.

TOWN: Bialkowski, Robinson, Mings (Kenlock), Collison, Sowumni (Willbye), Clarke, Hunt, Ambrose, McQueen, Patterson (McLaughlin), Henshall. Subs not used: Marsden, Galvin.

PICTURES: JAMES AGER @JamesAger91

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