A group who have grown up together - Meet Ipswich Town's FA Youth Cup squad

Late drama as Town U18s beat Fulham at Portman Road in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ross Halls

Ipswich Town face Sheffield United in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals this evening (5pm). Photo: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town's Under-18s are through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup following Monday's dramatic 3-2 win against Fulham. Stuart Watson profiles the squad.

Ipswich Town U18s manager Adem Atay celebrrates after his young Blues beat Premier League Fulham 3-2

Ipswich Town U18s manager Adem Atay. Photo: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

LEWIS RIDD
POSITION: Goalkeeper
DOB: 9/8/2004 (age 16)
Welsh keeper grew up in Port Talbot and was previously on the books at Swansea. 
The first year scholar is an ex boxer. Speaking of his experiences representing Bulldogs Boxing Club, he wrote on Facebook: "Boxing taught me about working hard, dedication, confidence and most of all courage. Given the opportunity to step in the ring several times was huge for me. Much of the boxing training and skills I learnt has been transferable into my dream sport football. The speed of your feet and hands has definitely helped me as a goalkeeper. And the mental strength required to be a boxer has prepared me for higher level goalkeeping. As a goalkeeper you are on your own, same as a boxer in the ring." 

Ben Wyss in action Picture: ROSS HALLS

Ben Wyss in action for Ipswich Town. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

BEN WYSS
POSITION: Right-back, left-back
DOB: 23/12/2002 (age 17)
Braintree boy. Former Gosfield School pupil joined Ipswich at the age of 10, progressing from the Development Centre. Was a guest player for Tottenham's U17s at an end of season tournament in Amsterdam.
Atay said: “An athletic player who has great acceleration and pace. He is able to affect play in both boxes, in and out of possession. Loves to run, dribble and cross. Has a great work ethic and enthusiasm.”


BROOKLYN KABONGOLO
POSITION:
Centre-back
DOB: 16/10/2002 (age 18)
Centre-back, whose mother is French, stands at 6ft 4in tall. He represented Chelmsford Athletics Club in sprints, hurdles and jumps.
Joined Ipswich from Billericay Town as an U13, initially as a physical midfielder, but was converted to a centre-back.
Atay said: “Tall and powerful. Comfortable on ball and has a great range of passing. Always smiling and happy. A committed and resolute defender.”

Elkan Baggott and Ola Bello celebrates one of the five Blues goals as they beat Chelmsford City 5-0

Elkan Baggott and Ola Bello celebrate one of the five Blues goals as they beat Chelmsford City 5-0 in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

ELKAN BAGGOTT
POSITION:
Centre-back
DOB: 23/10/2002 (age 18)
Another 6ft 4in centre-back. Joined the club as an U15.
The left-footer made his senior debut in the 2-0 EFL Trophy win against Gillingham in October and travelled with the first team squad to Plymouth last weekend.
Born in Bangkok to an Indonesia mother and English father, he recently represented Indonesia at U19 level. Has more than 130k followers on social media.
Former St Benedict's Catholic College pupil represented Colchester & Tendring Athletics Club in events such as 800m, discuss and javelin.
Atay said: “Has a physical presence. Calm and composed in possession but not afraid to defend when necessary. Powerful and dynamic. He’s developing all the time as a defender.”



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ALBIE ARMIN
POSITION:
Left-back, centre-back
DOB: 12/04/2004 (age 16)
Born and raised in Colchester, he attended the Philip Morant School.
Has been at the club from U8s onwards. Was linked to Liverpool prior to signing a two-year scholarship.
Atay said: "A very good character who leads vocally and by example. Nominated by his team-mates to be vice-captain. A little bit old school, in that he likes to defend aggressively and on the front foot, but also likes to play too. Can play left-back or as a left-sided centre-back."

Fraser Alexander celebrates his goal as the Blues beat Chelmsford City 5-0 in the FA Youth Cup Pictu

Fraser Alexander celebrates his goal as the Blues beat Chelmsford City 5-0 in the FA Youth Cup. Picture: Ross Halls - Credit: Ross Halls

FRASER ALEXANDER
POSITION:
Attacking midfielder
DOB: 20/2/2003 (age 17)
Has been with club since the age of eight and was unanimously voted by his team-mates to be captain of the Under-18s.
Currently studying for an A-Level in mathematics, he was recently recognised by the League Football Education (LFE) for his academic progress.
Atay said: “A Jordan Henderson type whose work sometimes goes unnoticed. A consistent performer with a good tactical understanding. Breaks up opposition play. Calm and relaxed in possession. Great ability with his feet – specifically his passing range.”

Alfie Cutbush celebrates his goal against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road Pictur

Alfie Cutbush celebrates his goal against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

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ALFIE CUTBUSH
POSITION:
Centre-midfielder 
DOB: 14/10/2002 (age 18)
From Chelmsford. Joined as an Under-8.
Was named as Town’s stand-out player in the 2018 academy showcase game against Tottenham.
Atay said: “A cheeky chap - in a good way. Intelligent footballer who reads the game very well, both in and out of possession.
"Able to break up the opposition’s play and start attack opportunities. Great range of passing. Can dictate the play. Vision for a forward pass."

Liam Gibbs celebrates his penalty in the Blues 3-2 win over Fulham Picture: Ross Halls

Liam Gibbs celebrates his penalty in the Blues 3-2 win over Fulham Picture: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

LIAM GIBBS
POSITION:
Attacking midfielder 
DOB: 16/12/2002 (age 17)
Bury St Edmunds boy joined the club at the age of eight. The former County Upper School pupil went on to captain the U15s and U16s.
He made his senior debut, as a late sub in an EFL Trophy game at Colchester, at the age of 16 last season. He's made three starts this campaign, including a full league debut in the recent 2-0 home loss to Charlton.
Blues boss Paul Lambert said of him: "He’s really clever with the ball, he’s a really intelligent player. You only really need to tell him something once and he takes it in."
Atay said: "Has been a stand-out player every year. Now a regular with the U23s and has had a taste of first team football, but remains very grounded."
Signed a professional deal on his 17th birthday.


CAMERON HUMPHREYS
POSITION:
Centre-midfielder
DOB: 30/10/2003 (age 17) 
Colchester boy has been with the club since U8s. 
Atay said: "Box-to-box midfielder, who has also played at left-back. A quiet character who leads by what he does on the football pitch. More often than not, he makes the right decision. Has an abundance of stamina and the quality to go with it. Another really good character who wants to improve every day." 

Zanda Siziba playing at Crawley Town in the EFL Trophy Picture Pagepix Ltd

Zanda Siziba playing at Crawley Town in the EFL Trophy. Picture Pagepix Ltd - Credit: Pagepix

ZANDA SIZIBA
POSITION:
Midfielder/winger
DOB: 19/7/2003 (age 17)
Snapped up when he was released by Tottenham at U16 level. 
Made his senior debut as a late sub in an EFL Trophy game at Colchester last season, then made his full debut in the 2-0 Trophy loss at Crawley last month.
Usually a winger, Paul Lambert deployed him as a deep-lying playmaker in that match.
Atay said: “Athletic. Technically very good, he can manipulate the ball in tight areas. Has a good understanding for what’s needed to play as a striker or in the midfield unit. Can come short and link play. Can also play off the shoulder and create space for others.”
After the Crawley game, Lambert said: "I think the first pass he gave away was right at the death. It was a first class performance."


OLA BELLO
POSITION:
Striker
DOB: 13/1/2003 (age 17)
Striker was recruited from Billericay Town at the same time as Kabongolo. Scored lots of goals for the U16s. Returned to form of late and bagged a hat-trick in the Youth Cup demolition of Chelmsford City.
Atay said: “All-action centre-forward who knows where the back of the net is. Very good athletic attributes. Quick and agile. Desire, work-rate and commitment to score goals in and around the box.
“Out of possession acts as the first line of defence. Presses high to win the ball back.”


NICO VALENTINE
POSITION:
Winger 
Age: 16
Been at the club since Under-8s and is part of the England U16 set-up.
Current head boy at Debenham High School. His older brother Xavier plays professional rugby for Championship club London Scottish.
Atay said: "A highly technical player who is very, very quick! Predominantly a right-winger who can play anywhere across the forward line. Quiet off the pitch, very grounded and does everything properly." 


JACK MANLEY
POSITION:
Attacking midfielder
DOB: 19/10/2004 (age 16)
Been at the club since Under-8s. 
Became the second youngest player in the club's history (behind Connor Wickham) when stepping off the bench at Crawley aged 16 years and 22 days.
Atay said: "He's always stood out as a high technical player. A right-footer with a low centre of gravity who likes to come in off the left. Has good agility and can pick out key passes. Scores and creates goals."
Lambert said: "I watched the kids when I first came in and I saw this little lad and thought ‘he’s a decent little footballer’. I was actually going to play him last year against Colchester actually, but he was injured or unwell."

Harley Curtis in action during the Ipswich Town U18s 3-2 win over Fulham in the FA Youth Cup at Port

Harley Curtis in action during Ipswich Town's FA Youth Cup win against Fulham. Picture: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

HARLEY CURTIS
POSITION:
Attacking midfielder, striker
DOB: 23/10/2002 (age 18) 
Scored the dramatic late winner against Fulham on Monday, having a hand in the previous two goals. 
Joined the club as an U11 after scoring lots of goals in grassroots football. Has been unfortunate with injuries.
Atay said: “Hard-working attacker that shows good understanding of his responsibilities in and out of possession. Loves to dribble and delivers an end product. Can run in behind or drop deep to link play."”

CAMERON STEWART
POSITION:
Centre-back
DOB: 20/02/2003 (age 17)
Northern Irish. Scouted when playing in the Super Cup where he captained the winners, County Antrim, in the final. Town subsequently beat a number of clubs to sign him from Belfast club Linfield.
Atay said: “Impressed staff with his determined attitude and ability. Excellent range of passing. Enjoys stepping into midfield with the ball. Strong in the tackle and aggressive in both boxes.”

Tawanda Chirewa in action against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ross Halls

Tawanda Chirewa in action against Southend United in the FA Youth Cup Picture: Ross Halls - Credit: Archant

TAWANDA CHIREWA
POSITION:
Attacking midfielder
DOB: 11/10/2003 (age 17)
From Witham and went to Shenfield High School. Eligible to represent Zimbabwe.
Made his Town senior debut, at the age of 16 and 31 days, as a late sub at Colchester last season.
Lambert said: "He looks younger than 16! We had to get permission from his school

to play - I think it's a great story. There's no fear in his game."
Atay said: "He is somebody who can create and score. Needs to keep focussed now he's dipped his toe in the first team environment."
Signed a professional deal last month.


MICHAEL BARECK
POSITION:
Striker
DOB: 4/4/2003 (age 17) 
Basildon-based striker is a second year scholar.
Atay said: “Powerful centre-forward. Eye for goal, but also able to link the play and bring others into the game. Tenacious. Gets around the pitch and hassles defenders.”


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