Kids have to earn their chance, says Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell has told supporters that he won’t just ‘throw the kids in’ over his side’s remaining four Championship games.

The Blues play at Crystal Palace in a fairly meaningless end-of-season mid-table clash this afternoon.

But while Eagles boss Dougie Freedman is likely to hand young talent such as Wilfried Zaha, Nathaniel Clyne, Stuart O’Keefe and Kyle De Silva more valuable first team experience, Jewell remains reluctant to throw his academy-produced players in at the deep end as his side finish a disappointing campaign in promotion form.

“The supporters would like to see one or two youngsters, I understand that, and they might well see one or two,” said Jewell. “But at the same time we still want to win matches.”

Young trio Luke Hyam, Josh Carson and Jack Ainsley have received limited game time this season, while Joe Whight is yet to experience first team football in his first season as a full professional. Instead the likes of Daryl Murphy, Grant Leadbitter and Lee Bowyer – all of whom could well be leaving the club this summer – continue to start.

Asked if he understood why many fans have been calling for youngsters to be played, Jewell said: “Of course I can. There’s a debate every week about which team you’re going to pick though isn’t there? We want to strike a balance between having one eye on next season but also finishing strongly.

“Listen, we haven’t got 10 youngsters who are going to set the world alight. It’s okay people saying ‘throw the kids in’, but they’ve got to earn that right to get in the team.”

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One young player who could get his chance is schoolboy Byron Lawrence, the 16-year-old versatile midfielder who was on the bench for the Carling Cup tie against Northampton last August.

“We’ll try and get him some game time,” said Jewell. “He’s been off school for the last two weeks (Easter holidays) and he’s been training with us.”

– See today’s EADT for full match preview.