New kid on the block claims match ball

IPSWICH Town new kid on the block Connor Wickham was today finding a home for last night's match ball.The 16-year-old striker took the ball home after claiming a hat-trick with two fantastic goals plus one of the Blues' spot kicks in the penalty shoot-out victory over League Two Shrewsbury Town in the first round of the Carling Cup at the ProStar Stadium.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town new kid on the block Connor Wickham was today finding a home for last night's match ball.

The 16-year-old striker took the ball home after claiming a hat-trick with two fantastic goals plus one of the Blues' spot kicks in the penalty shoot-out victory over League Two Shrewsbury Town in the first round of the Carling Cup at the ProStar Stadium.An enthralling game ended 3-3 after extra time, with Wickam joining Jon Walters, Alan Quinn and Ed Upson in netting from the spot in a 4-2 penalty win.

By the time the game was won it was almost past the bedtime of one so young - yet one so talented that he stood out among players twice his age.


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He showed sharp reflexes as the players left the field by grabbing the match ball.

“I scored two and also converted a penalty - so that's three goals in my book and a hat-trick is enough to claim the match ball,” Wickham said.

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“I was happy to put my hand up and take a kick, even though I had had a penalty saved in a friendly against Charlton recently.

“I sent the ball to my strong side and with the other lads doing well we went through.”

Level-headed beyond his tender years, Wickham was one of 11 teenagers in manager Roy Keane's squad and he continued: “It was a tough game and we had to dig in, but it turned out to be a brilliant day and a brilliant game for me.

“To score our first goal and then another after the interval in front of our fans against two experienced defenders was great.

“Just being around the hotel all day yesterday gave me a buzz and it is all part of the learning curve.

“I am confident I can handle any pressure that comes my way and will take - as they say - one game at a time.

“Hopefully I have done enough to be in consideration for Saturday's home Championship game against Leicester City.”

Town will be without Wickham at the end of August as he has been selected for the England Under-17 squad for games against Italy at Burton on August 26, Turkey at Northampton two days later and Portugal at Notts County on August 30.

Wickham already has four Under-17 caps, with Ipswich happy to give permission for him to take his place with the England party.

“I am looking forward to it, with a different style of football,” said Wickham, who did not leave school until May and was making his full debut.

“We have a strong national Under-17 side and hopefully we can do the business and I will come back to Ipswich a better player.”

Quinn scored the other Ipswich goal from a free-kick with the draw for the second round tonight.

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