Ipswich Town’s nine to nurture... the academy products who have made their debuts this season

Armando Dobra, Liam Gibbs and Tawanda Chirewa have all made their Ipswich Town debuts this season. P

Armando Dobra, Liam Gibbs and Tawanda Chirewa have all made their Ipswich Town debuts this season. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Nine academy graduates have made Ipswich Town debuts this season - ANDY WARREN looks at the group of youngsters.

Armando Dobra gets a hug from Paul Lambert after scoring in a League Cup tie at Luton. Photo: Pagepi

Armando Dobra gets a hug from Paul Lambert after scoring in a League Cup tie at Luton. Photo: Pagepix Ltd - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Armando Dobra

The leading light in this year's breakthrough class.

The young Albanian international pushed his case during pre-season, impressing on the club's German tour and continuing to do so when the Blues returned to England.

His debut was a memorable one, as he scored in Town's Carabao Cup exit at Luton and backed that up with a two-assist display as Spurs' Under 21s were beaten in the EFL Trophy.

The tricky winger, who oozes confidence, made his league debut at Accrington but that game ended with a red card soon after he came on, with the teenager not featuring in the league since.

His progress saw Brighton unsuccessfully bid for him on transfer deadline day, with the injury to James Norwood and Kayden Jackson's suspension potentially opening the door for the youngster in the coming weeks.

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Discussions regarding a new contract are ongoing for several months but have yet to reach a conclusion.

Bailey Clements at Cambridge United Picture Pagepix

Bailey Clements at Cambridge United Picture Pagepix

Bailey Clements

The young left-back is another who, like Dobra, was given the chance to show what he can do during Town's pre-season.

He was given a pro deal last season and made his debut at Luton, with the defender finding the going a little tough that night as he battled with players vastly more experienced than him.

He's spent his season in the Under 23s, as well as a brief loan spell in non-league with Hemel Hempstead.

The Blues recently took up the option to extend his deal for a further year.

Brett McGavin pictured during Town's 1-0 win over Lincoln City in the FA Cup first round replay Phot

Brett McGavin pictured during Town's 1-0 win over Lincoln City in the FA Cup first round replay Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Brett McGavin

The classy central midfielder spent a shot time with non-league side Concord at the start of the season but returned to Portman Road and sought to make an impact.

He had played three times for the Blues, twice in the Trophy and one in the FA Cup, and more than held his own in all three of those games before coming in for a first league start against Fleetwood on Tuesday night.

McGavin's good on the ball, keeps things simple and knows how to move it around the pitch. In many ways it's a shame a loan move wasn't found before the transfer window closed, although the fact he was called upon for the Fleetwood game will be of real benefit.

He's contracted until the summer but will surely agree a new one.

Homegrown duo Armando Dobra and Tyreece Simpson are likely to be involved again this weekend. Photo:

Homegrown duo Armando Dobra and Tyreece Simpson are likely to be involved again this weekend. Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Tyreece Simpson

The big striker, who has a rugby background, broke into the Under 23s last season and made his professional debut in the EFL Trophy win over Tottenham.

He's powerful, quick and showed his eye for goal with a good long-range effort against Spurs soon after coming in.

Simpson made his league debut at Blackpool, then signed a professional deal the day before appearing for the first-team again from the bench against Fleetwood.

His first-team outings have been impressive, leading to questions regarding the possibility of a first start.

Tommy Hughes during Town's 1-0 defeat to Colchester United in the EFL Trophy Photo: ROSS HALLS

Tommy Hughes during Town's 1-0 defeat to Colchester United in the EFL Trophy Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Tommy Hughes

Like McGavin, Hughes has also made three Ipswich appearances this season, with two in the Trophy and one in the FA Cup at Lincoln.

The midfielder has shown grit, determination and a calmness in big situations.

He's another still finishing his scholarship.

Tommy Hughes during Town's 1-0 defeat to Colchester United in the EFL Trophy Photo: ROSS HALLS

Tommy Hughes during Town's 1-0 defeat to Colchester United in the EFL Trophy Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Tawanda Chirewa

The Essex-based midfielder, of Zimbabwean descent, had to get permission from his school in Shenfield to feature for the Blues in the EFL Trophy at Colchester, becoming the second youngest play in the club's history at 16 years and just 31 days.

It certainly came as a surprise, with midfielder Chirewa having not even featured at Under 18 level for Ipswich prior to his senior debut.

He has since been involved for Adem Atay's Under 18s.

Tommy Smith in action during Town U18s FA Youth Cup game with Exeter City at Portman Road Photo: ROS

Tommy Smith in action during Town U18s FA Youth Cup game with Exeter City at Portman Road Photo: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Tommy Smith

Ipswich Town's newest professional, signing until the summer of 2022, with a year's option on top.

Smith made his first-team Town debut as a half-time substitute in the EFL Trophy win against Peterborough back in December, acquitting himself well at left-back after a tough start against a strong Posh side.

He's currently on loan at Bury Town, where he's been impressing as the Ram Meadow outfit push for promotion from Isthmian League North.

Bury Town debutant, Alex Henderson, on loan from Ipswich Town, challenges Coggeshall attacker Ross W

Bury Town debutant, Alex Henderson, on loan from Ipswich Town, challenges Coggeshall attacker Ross Wall to a high ball. Picture: PAUL VOLLER - Credit: Archant

Alex Henderson

The big central defender is also on loan at Bury, having made his senior bow in the Trophy win at Peterborough.

He's a solid defender who is good in the air with good physical strength.

He's played for the Under 23s in the past but is currently playing alongside men in the non-league game. He's yet to sign a professional deal.

Liam Gibbs comes on as a late substitute in the game at Colchester.
Picture: Steve Waller w

Liam Gibbs comes on as a late substitute in the game at Colchester. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Liam Gibbs

The midfielder was another to debut at Colchester in the trophy, before signing professionally in December.

His deal expires at the end of next season, with the rest of his campaign spent in the Under 23s.

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TOWN CONTRACT SITUATION

Season loan: Norris, Garbutt

2020: Skuse, Edwards, Dozzell, Keane, Rowe, Roberts, McGavin, Dobra

2021: Chambers, Sears, Judge, Holy, Jackson, Wilson, Nsiala, Nolan, Bishop, Donacien, Huws, El Mizouni, Cotter, Nydam, Folami, Morris, Drinan, Wright, Przybek, Andoh, Gibbs, Z.Brown, K.Brown, Clements

2022: Woolfenden, Downes, Norwood, Vincent-Young, Lankester, Kenlock, Ndaba, Crowe, T Smith, Simpson

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