Where will the Blues army of promising youngsters fit in under Hurst?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst has an impressive group of young sters at his disposal. Andy Warren looks at their chances of breaking into his side.
The midfield triplets
How good would it be to one day see an Ipswich Town midfield three of Andre Dozzell (19), Flynn Downes (19) and Tristan Nydam (18)?
It seems unlikely, for this season at least, that manager Paul Hurst would give the England Under 19 trio the keys to midfield as a group, but all three bring something different to the party and complement each other well.
All three seem certain to be involved regularly during the campaign, but with senior midfielders Cole Skuse, Tom Adeyemi and Emyr Huws also on the scene there is going to be a battle for minutes and some difficult decisions to be made.
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Verdict: The Blues should and will be patient with Dozzell as he continues his battle back from last season’s knee injury but, once fit, he offers a guile and creativity which is hard to come by in young players. Downes is another who needs to be looked after, having faced exhaustion following his first few months as a senior player last season before a loan to Luton.
Nydam’s versatility could prove useful given he can play in advanced and deep midfield roles while also being comfortable as a left wing-back.
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Supporters are excited by the potential and freshness the trio bring to the party, but it remains to be seen how they are utilised by Hurst. Playing them would add to the good feeling circulating around the club right now... but Hurst has to be convinced they are ready.
Make no mistake about it, the 19-year-old Chelsea loanee is at Ipswich Town to play games.
He’s been one of the standout players in Chelsea’s youth system in recent years and is comfortable in both central defence and in the middle of midfield. He can play out from the back, has an eye for a long pass and a good first touch.
While the Blues are short in central defence, with Luke Chambers the only senior player in this position currently, there seems a good chance he may be deployed in a holding midfield role, should Hurst play a similar system to the one which brought him success at Shrewsbury.
Verdict: He is sure to see plenty of action this season as he takes his first steps in senior football.
It’s perhaps hard to remember Bishop is still, for a few more days at least, only 21-years-old.
It’s been a difficult three years for the homegrown star, with injuries restricting him to just 28 appearances since bursting onto the scene in 2014/15.
The Blues triggered the one-year option on his contract at the end of last season, with the hope he will rekindle the form which made him such a hot property early in his still-young career.
Verdict: At his best, Bishop is a true creative force. But he needs to be on the field to prove it.
You get the impression this is a make-or-break season for the youngster - you just hope he gets the chance to prove his worth because, if he does, he is a real asset.
Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen are the two senior full-backs in Hurst’s squad but the new boss is blessed with potential in this area.
Myles Kenlock (21) deserved more football than he got under Mick McCarthy, slotting in well when Knudsen was unavailable, and could do so again should the Dane be needed in the centre of defence.
Josh Emmanuel (20) impressed in League One with Rotherham last season and returns from his loan a more-rounded player, while Barry Cotter (19) was an instant hit as he starred in McCarthy’s final game in charge.
Verdict: It’s easy to see a scenario where Spence and Knudsen are the favoured full-backs under Hurst, with the young trio needing to take their chances when required to deputise. All three are more than capable, though. Loan moves away could be a possibility for at least one. Could Cotter do a job in a wide midfield role?
The two Bens, Morris and Folami (both 19), showed flashes of what they are all about during appearances in the final weeks of last season, with neither looking out of their depth when required in the first-team. Folami in particular impressed in the 2-2 draw with Millwall.
Aaron Drinan (20) is a young striker who was talked up by McCarthy following his January arrival but is surprisingly yet to make his debut.
Verdict: Hurst is likely to add at least one more senior striker to a forward line already including Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and Freddie Sears. That would leave little opportunity for the youngsters to stake a claim. Loan deals could probably do all three some good, during the second half of the season a least, while they will hope to be in the goals for the Under 23s.
This one intrigues me. The big 19-year-old was perhaps the stand-out performer in a young Town side’s valiant Carabao Cup defeat by Crystal Palace last August, before returning to Portman Road in April after a productive loan spell at Bromley in the National League.
Verdict: He fits the bill physically, reads the game well and is comfortable on the ball. Given the Blues’ lack of centre backs at the present time, he could be one to be kept around. If he is to leave on loan he could benefit from a temporary spell in either League One or League Two.
Also on the scene
Shane McLoughlin (21) came off the bench for his league debut on the final day of last season and made a quick impact, winning a penalty against Middlesbrough with quick feet and good decision making.
Defender Chris Smith (20) is a player whose attitude impressed McCarthy but spent last season out on loan in non-league football with Chelmsford, while Pat Webber (19) had a similar spell with Braintree.
At present Harry Wright, son of former Blues’ goalkeeper Richard, is the third goalkeeper in the squad following the departure of Michael Crowe.
Verdict: These players are all likely to be important players for the Under 23 squad, with loans again a possibility.