Give Wickham a break - Town manager Jewell
IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell today called for Connor Wickham to be given a break.
He sees the 18-year-old striker as a vital cog in his plans to turn Town into serious Championship promotion candidates in 2011/12.
Wickham has already been named in the provisional England Under-21 squad for the UEFA European Championship in Denmark next month.
And he is expected to be included in the England party for the Under-19 European Championship in Switzerland that starts later this month.
In theory Wickham could be playing well into June – with Town reporting back for training on June 29.
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Jewell is anticipating Wickham remaining at Portman Road for the next 12 months at least with the player and his advisers all seeing this as the youngster’s best option as he builds his career.
Last summer he was a key member of the England side that won the European Under-17 Championship in Liechtenstein and had little time to rest close season.
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“Players need a break,” said Jewell. “And in particular young ones and I would like Connor to have a decent break away from the game – at least three to four weeks.
“Connor has hardly had a break for coming up to two years – and you cannot play for 12 months of the year.
“You need to forget about football completely and then come back refreshed.
“I can understand people saying that football is an ‘easy’ job to have, but it is a profession that can be tough mentally and physically particularly when you are under the spotlight like Connor.
“Of course he wants to play for his country and it’s a big honour for him and for Ipswich Town, but I hope that the England coaches show some sympathy to him.
“We also have Marton Fulop and Tamas Priskin on likely Hungarian international duty next month, and you have to worry about burn-out.”
Wickham has been a virtual ever-present in the Ipswich team since Jewell arrived in early January and he could be back in action at Leicester City today (kick-off 12.45pm) after missing the last two games with a rib problem.
England’s Under-21’s face Norway in a warm-up game at Southampton on June 5. Once in Denmark, they take on Spain on June 12, Ukraine on June 15 and the Czech Republic on June 19.
The Under-19 Championship sees England playing Montenegro on May 31, Switzerland on June 2 and Spain on June 5.