Ipswich Town still have homegrown target in their sights

Academy graduate Teddy Bishop

Academy graduate Teddy Bishop - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town remain keen for half of the club’s squad to be homegrown, by the start of the 2017-18 season.

Andre Dozzell's fairytale goal at Sheffield Wednesday was voted as the best moment of Ipswich Town's

Andre Dozzell's fairytale goal at Sheffield Wednesday was voted as the best moment of Ipswich Town's season

The Blues announced the goal almost three years ago, ahead of their unsuccessful bid to secure Category One academy status, which allows clubs stronger powers to attract youngsters from teams operating lower down the system, amongst other privileges.

The ‘Academy Association’ was launched, which enabled supporters to donate as little as £5 a month, and sponsors a minimum of £500 for a season, to ensure the club’s youth set-up had the best chance possible to move forward.

The Blues are currently spending over £750,000 to stay in line with their Category Two rivals and are laying a brand-new, full-sized 3G pitch at the club’s Playford Road training ground, as well as replacing the surface at the venue’s air dome.

“We set targets three or four years ago to try and meet and we are setting targets for three or four years from now,” said academy assistant manager, Lee O’Neill.

“Obviously we take circumstances in the first team into account, but we are very much hoping that there is a chance that we can be in and around that target.

Youngsters such as Cambridgshire-born Teddy Bishop and Ipswich starlet Andre Dozzell, who have both made their Football League debuts for Town, were the focus of several top-flight clubs’ scouts, before they made their first-team bows.

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And had it not been for the club’s reputation for developing youngsters, that might not have happened.

Ipswich Town youth product Richard Wright

Ipswich Town youth product Richard Wright

“Our past track-record speaks for itself,” O’Neill explained.

“We are trying to stay in line with other academies, but our reputation for bringing players through, and that opportunity to play in the first team, is a positive.

“Sometimes it’s better to be in a situation like ours, where you can see the pathway to the first team, as opposed to having several senior pros stood in your way.”