Woolfenden joins an exclusive club for young Ipswich players - The 17 graduates topping Town's academy list

Darren Bent, Tommy Smith and Luke Woolfenden have all played 50 games since graduating from Ipswich Town's academy.

Darren Bent, Tommy Smith and Luke Woolfenden have all played 50 games since graduating from Ipswich Town's academy. - Credit: Archant/Pagepix

Luke Woolfenden became the 17th player to reach 50 appearances after graduating from Ipswich Town's academy.

Here we take a look at the youngsters who've made the grade since the academy opened in the late 1990s.

Tommy Smith has made the most appearances of any Ipswich Town academy graduate.

Tommy Smith has made the most appearances of any Ipswich Town academy graduate. - Credit: Andy Abbott

Tommy Smith – 267 apps, 23 goals (2008-18) 

Top of the pile as the academy’s most ‘capped’ player is a central defender needing little introduction. 

The New Zealand international truly broke into the Town side under Roy Keane and was a regular for the best part of a decade before moving to Colorado in MLS in 2018. He’s back in England now, living in Ipswich but playing for Colchester. 

Owen Garvan – 174 apps, 13 goals (2005-10) 

The Irish midfielder made a quick impact after being given his debut by Joe Royle as a teenager, sweeping the ball around the field expertly. 

His career at Ipswich maybe didn’t hit the heights many expected, though, as he fell out of favour with Roy Keane and headed off for Crystal Palace. He also had spells with Bolton and Colchester. Aged 32, he’s is now back in his native Ireland, working for his family’s insurance business. 

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Matt Richards – 168 apps, 9 goals (2002-09) 

This homegrown left-back made his Ipswich debut against Avenir Beggen in the UEFA Cup in 2002 and soon became a regular fixture under Joe Royle, as the Blues mounted promotion challenges in their bid to return to the top flight. 

He spent three spells on loan at Brighton in 2008 and 2009 before leaving Ipswich permanently, finishing up his career at Shrewsbury, Walsall, Cheltenham and Dagenham. 

Former Ipswich Town midfilder Luke Hyam has been released by Southend United. Picture: PA

Former Ipswich Town midfilder Luke Hyam has been released by Southend United. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Luke Hyam - 146 apps, 3 goals (2010-18) 

The former Northgate High School pupil made his Ipswich debut under Keane in 2010 and remained an important part of the squad under Paul Jewell and then Mick McCarthy, before injuries began to get the better of him in his latter years at the club. 

He left Portman Road in 2018, heading to Southend, and is now a free agent after leaving Roots Hall this summer.  

Darren Bent - 141 apps, 53 goals (2001-05)

Another, like Richards, who made his debut in the UEFA Cup. The striker’s bow came at Helsingborgs and, by the end of the 2001/02 season, he’d fully broken into the first-team as Town tumbled towards relegation. 

He became a regular once Ipswich were back in the second tier, scoring at least 16 goals in all three of his full campaigns before joining Charlton for £2.5million in 2005.  

Now retired and working in the media, Bent played for the likes of Tottenham, Sunderland and Aston Villa and cost clubs more than £50million in combined fees. 

EADT SPORTIpswich Town v Norwich City - Portman RoadDanny Haynes deflected first goalPICTU

Danny Haynes celebrates a goal against Norwich in 2008. - Credit: Andy Abbott

Danny Haynes - 128 apps, 20 goals (2005-09) 

The Canary Crusher became an Ipswich Town hero due to his exploits on derby day, scoring three times against Norwich City during a career in blue which saw him make a real impact from the bench. 

He only made 36 league starts for the club, though, and ultimately left for Bristol City and then the likes of Charlton, Hibernian, Cheltenham and Barnsley as he bounced around following his departure from Portman Road. 

Ian Westlake – 126 apps, 16 goals (2002-06) 

Has there been a fitter Ipswich Town player in recent years than midfielder Ian Westlake? He was dependable, driven and durable throughout his time in Ipswich blue, entirely under Royle. 

He left as part of a swap deal involving Dan Harding in 2006 but openly admitted to falling out of love with football before ending his career in the professional game with Montral Impact in 2012. He now owns his own lettings company after returning to Suffolk. 

Teddy Bishop has been brilliant for Town so far Picture: STEVE WALLER

Teddy Bishop has been brilliant for Town so far this season but is currently out injured. - Credit: Steve Waller

Teddy Bishop - 108 apps, 5 goals (2014-present) 

The first member of the current squad on this list and the only one over the century mark. Were it not for injuries, which have robbed Bishop of large parts of his career, he would be on at least double that. 

He’s out again at the moment but, prior to picking up an ankle problem, had been in great form, scoring four goals so far this season. 

Myles Kenlock - 83 apps, no goals (2015- present) 

The left-back is getting close to his 100th Ipswich appearance without ever being able to become a regular fixture in the Town side. 

He was given his debut by McCarthy but has found himself as back-up to Jonas Knudsen, Luke Garbutt and now Stephen Ward. 

debut making Dean Bowditch takes on Norwich's Drury

Dean Bowditch, pictured on his Ipswich Town debut at Norwich City. - Credit: Pagepix

Dean Bowditch - 83 apps, 9 goals (2002-09) 

The striker made a high-profile, game-changing debut at Norwich in 2002 and attracted interest from the biggest clubs in the country after bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old. A hat-trick against Watford the following season saw his stock rise further but he wasn’t able to hit the heights expected of him. 

He left Ipswich in 2009 and enjoyed a good spell with MK Dons, where he now works in the community department. 

Flynn Downes – 70 apps, 3 goals (2017-present) 

Oh how Ipswich have missed the tenacious midfielder this season. He’s currently out with a knee injury, having proven over the last two years just how big a role he can play in the Town engine room. 

How long he will remain an Ipswich player remains to be scene, with the youngster handing in a transfer request this summer in a bid to push through a move to the Premier League with Crystal Palace. 

Lewis Price - 75 apps (2004-07) 

The Welshman is the highest-ranked goalkeeper on this list, though much of his time at the club saw him serve as a back-up to Kelvin Davis before battling Shane Supple for the gloves following Davis’ departure for Sunderland in 2005. 

He left for Derby in 2007 and has also been at Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham as a back-up before retiring and joining the coaching staff at Bournemouth’s academy. 

Connor Wickham - 72 apps, 15 goals (2009-11) 

The 16-year-old became the youngest player in Ipswich history when he made his debut in 2009, before earning a regular first-team place over the course of the next two seasons. 

He became the academy’s biggest sale when he left for Sunderland for an initial £8.1million and is now at Crystal Palace, where injuries have hit him hard in recent years. 

Andre Dozzell with a first half corner. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Andre Dozzell signed a new contract until 2024 in December. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Steve Waller

Andre Dozzell – 63 apps, 3 goals (2016-present) 

The midfielder burst onto the scene with a bang in 2016 as he mirrored his father Jason’s achievement by scoring on his debut as a 16-year-old. 

After injury stunted his progress, Dozzell Jr is now a first-team regular at Portman Road and recently signed a new three-year contract. 

Billy Clarke - 56 apps, 4 goals (2005-09) 

The Irish striker was a member of the FA Youth Cup-winning class of 2005 and made the transition to the first-team the following season. He played the majority of his football at Ipswich under Magilton, both up front and also wide on the left, but never became a regular scorer. 

He’s had a good career since, even though injuries have struck, and is now back at Bradford City where he previously enjoyed the most consistent spell of his career. 

Darren Ambrose – 55 apps, 12 goals (2002-03, 08-09, 14-15) 

Ambrose’s first spell in the Ipswich first-team was all-too brief as he burst onto the scene following relegation in 2002 and helped inspire optimism alongside close friend Bent. Sadly, administration meant he was sold to Newcastle before the end of his first full season at the club. 

He would be back, though, as he returned on loan from Charlton in 2008 and as a free agent under McCarthy in 2014/15. He’s retired now and is working in the media. 

Game one and game 50: Luke Woolfenden, pictured right on his debut at Luton in 2017 and left on his 50th Ipswich...

Game one and game 50: Luke Woolfenden, pictured right on his debut at Luton in 2017 and left on his 50th Ipswich appearance at Plymouth. - Credit: Pagepix

Luke Woolfenden - 50 apps, 1 goal (2017-present

The young defender is the newest name on this list after reaching the milestone at Plymouth on Saturday. 

He proved his worth last season, becoming a regular and attracting interest from higher up the pyramid, before signing a new long-term deal in the summer. 

On the edge 

Four more players have made more than 25 appearances for Ipswich but departed before reaching 50. 

They are Shane Supple (38), Josh Carson (33), Josh Emmanuel (29) and Liam Trotter (26). 

Who’s next? 

The next young player likely to make the list is Jack Lankester, who has played 24 times for Ipswich now and is back playing regularly after missing more than 18 months with a succession of back problems. 

Tristan Nydam is three behind him on 21 but is still not back in action after suffering a nasty ankle injury back in July 2019. 

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