‘Maturing as men’ – Paul Jewell praises Josh Carson and Luke Hyam

LUKE Hyam and Josh Carson may not be getting much Ipswich Town game time, but manager Paul Jewell assures supporters they are still making huge strides in their careers.

With the Blues stranded 15th in the Championship table with just four games to go, a number of supporters have called for the club’s homegrown talent to be given a chance to shine as the season peters out.

Carson was handed only his sixth start of the season in Monday’s 2-1 home defeat to Leicester. The 18-year-old winger has completed only three full matches this season, come off the bench 10 times and been an unused substitute on just three further occasions.

Former Northgate High School pupil Hyam failed to feature in a single league game for Ipswich during Jewell’s first year in charge. And although an impressive eight-game run of Championship starts at the start of 2012 saw the 20-year-old handed a one-year contract extension, he has been on the bench just once since a below-par display in the 3-0 defeat at Brighton at the back end of February.

Ipswich have won four, lost four and drawn one of the nine games Hyam has started this season, with likes of Grant Leadbitter, Andy Drury, Lee Bowyer and Ryan Stevenson all preferred as central midfield options of late.

“I have spoken to them,” said Jewell, when asked about the academy graduates. “It sounds strange to say this because they haven’t played a lot of football recently, but I am pleased with their progress. They are maturing as men, as well as footballers.”

Having burst onto the scene under Roy Keane last season, Carson came in for some criticism from Jewell last summer. The Blues boss said he felt the speedy winger had returned to pre-season training ‘not in as good a shape as he possibly could have been’ and was told to ‘knuckle down’.

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The Northern Ireland international signed a new two-year deal in February though and was chosen as one of only three outfield players to model Town’s new kits for next season recently.

“Josh is becoming a better professional, his outlook in training is terrific,” said Jewell. “I said to him that, although he hasn’t played a lot of football, I am really pleased with his progress.

“Luke Hyam is the same. Three months ago he was probably looking to move on at the end of the season so he deserves great credit in the way he has gone about turning his career around.

“They both deserve credit. They are good young players with a really good attitude. They might not be in the team but they are always in my thoughts. I’ve said to them just keep fighting and keep working because if you are not in the team you are always better training properly.”