Hyam faces tough test

AT the tender age of 19, Luke Hyam is already acutely aware of the highs and lows of life as a professional footballer.

The teenage midfielder enjoyed and then endured a rollercoaster first season with Ipswich Town – something that should hold him in good stead for the campaign ahead.

From the inauspicious surroundings of Newmarket Town’s Cricket Field Road, Hyam was one of the big positives coming out of pre-season last year.

And while fans wondered who this tenacious youngster was shining against West Ham in a pre-season friendly at Portman Road, his performances had not gone unnoticed by manager Roy Keane.

Adopting a 4-3-3 formation, Hyam was given the holding defensive role and started the first eight matches which saw Town lose just once.

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Slowly, and understandably, his inexperience started to show and he was sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Reading in September.

This proved to be the beginning of the end for Hyam whose disappearance from the first team scene was almost as rapid as his rise to a starting spot.

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Having been a virtual certainty in the first two months of the season, Hyam played just two halves of first team football in the following seven-and-a-half-months of the 2010/11 campaign.

His dramatic fall from grace even led to question marks whether the promising youngster would be offered a new contract. In the end, he was given 12 months but knows the jury remains out.

Most seasoned pros would struggle to work out where it went so wrong. So for a relative rookie, Hyam must have spent a large part of the summer going over and over the previous nine months.

He will hope to be given a chance to impress Jewell in the weeks to come, a fresh slate after the new boss was initially brought in with the sole objective of keeping the club in the Championship.

After the manager had no choice but to put his faith in experienced players like Colin Healy, the forthcoming friendlies will offer Hyam hope. And his best buddy and former Town team-mate Billy Clark believes his fellow midfielder still has a lot to offer.

But with a new experienced midfielder or two virtually guaranteed to be arriving at Portman Road, Hyam might have to follow the likes of Tommy Smith and Ronan Murray and go out on loan.

And he will do so with the full endorsement of Clark who was forced to settle for reserve team football for the whole of last year.

Clark warned: “If they are not playing, they have to try and get a loan. At this time in their career, they need to be playing as much as they can.”

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