Ipswich Town youngsters could benefit from blood and guts of non-league

Tom Winter in action against Barnet U21s.

Tom Winter in action against Barnet U21s. - Credit: James Ager

A temporary move to the blood and guts of non-league could benefit Ipswich Town’s rising stars more than the step up to the under-21 league.

That is the view of academy supremo Bryan Klug who has helped nurture new senior squad members Jack Marriott, Michael Timlin, Tom Winter, Jonny Leddy and David October.

Winter, 18, was in goalscoring form at Ryman League Premier Leiston recently and, along with his quartet of team-mates, has penned a one-year senior contract with the club.

However, appearances can be deceptive and the club’s current Category Two status means the Blues’ youngsters are prevented from testing themselves against the elite under-21s in the country, with the likes of Barnet and Brentford, rather than Manchester United and Liverpool, on the agenda.

“The standard of the games are not really as testing as we want and therefore the gap between under-21 level and the first-team is massive,” said Klug. “You are not playing in life or death situations in the under-21 league and I have no problem sending lads out to lower levels as they develop an edge, but that doesn’t mean it suits ever player.

“It’s been really tough for him (Winter) but the pitches, the style of play, have done him the world of good and opened his eyes.

“Whether or not that will have brought his footballing development on remains to be seen but, no disrespect to Leiston or the Ryman League, I am sure he will be grateful to be back at Ipswich next season. Getting the players out on loan to any league is better than what we can offer at the moment.”

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Meanwhile, Jacob Marsden and Sam McDermid, Edward Ellis, Cemal Ramadan, Matthew Clarke, Joshua Emmanuel, Amon Walton Owen and Jonathan Smith will start their two year scholarships at the academy in July, and Klug confirmed the club were close to signing more.

“There are those that have been here three or four years while there are lads from abroad and a couple I am trying to secure from Ireland,” revealed Klug, who is also hoping to recruit a player from Tottenham.

“We have got the likes of Matthew Clarke, Cemal Ramadan – who recently scored two for the under-21s – and Jonathan Smith, a first choice for Northern Ireland, coming in. I am very excited about that group.”