Keane has answer to Wickham ‘recovery’

IPSWICH TOWN: Roy Keane is backing Connor Wickham to come back from his latest England duty firing on all cylinders.

The 17-year-old striker is tipped for a big future but he has been unable to find his best form since suffering an ankle injury in pre-season.

He will leave to join the England Under-19 party after today’s npower Championship match between Town and Leeds United at Portman Road (kick-off 3pm).

With Wickham at his best, and showing the form that has seen a host of Premier League scouts attracted to Town’s games, Ipswich have a much better chance of making an impact this season.

“Going away with England is just what Connor needs,” said Keane.

“We have to be easy with him, but there is still a lot of pressure on the lad.

“So far after his injury he has been restricted to cameo roles of 70 or 80 minutes and being away will do him the world of good.

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“He will be with talented players of his own age and be well looked after.

“Being in a different scenario after working hard at Ipswich to get fit will serve him well.

“Mentally it has been hard work for him, and he still has some catching up to do.

“Connor would have featured in our friendly game with Millwall next Tuesday if he had not been with England.”

This is Wickham’s first Under-19 call-up after starring when England won the European Under-17 Championships last summer.

Head coach Noel Blake will send his team into UEFA European U19 Championship first qualifying round action against Albania, Cyprus and Belgium in Malmedy and Vise Belgium on October 8, 10 and 13.

Keane is happy to send his players on international duty if they are fit and defender Tommy Smith will be assessed after today’s match to see whether a back problem will allow him to travel to New Zealand for two friendlies.

“They go with my blessing,” added Keane.

“And why Brian Murphy and David Norris are not in the Republic of Ireland squad I don’t know.

“Some international managers appear to pick and play the same players whether they are in their club side or not.”

Town players not on international duty will take part in a golf day on Wednesday and then have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off before starting their preparations for the Coventry game that takes place in a fortnight.

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