Nice to see you Connor...
SURPRISE! Connor Wickham, the darling of Portman Road, gave all Ipswich Town fans a terrific boost by declaring himself fit to feature at Portsmouth on Saturday.
Wickham’s participation, as a 72nd minute substitute in the goalless draw on the south coast, confirms that third-placed Town mean business when they take on the only two teams that are above them, QPR and Cardiff, over the next few days.
Although the 17-year-old’s quickfire return was a surprise to most – he has not even played a game for the Reserves since damaging his ankle in July – it didn’t surprise team-mate David Norris.
Midfielder Norris, who almost secured a fifth away win on the trot with a second-half shot that bounced back off a post, always expected Wickham to return without much fuss.
“Connor is only a young lad and his fitness is very good,” explained Norris.
“And when you’ve got the quality that he has, with his touch and control, it doesn’t take long to get it back.
“It was good for Connor and Mark Kennedy to come back. We need that because our squad isn’t the biggest.
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“The boys coming back today have given the lads a boost. They both looked sharp and ready to go. They will give us that competition, especially with so many games coming up, because everyone is going to be needed,” added Norris.
Left-back Kennedy, like Wickham, was introduced with 18 minutes remaining at Fratton Park, as a replacement for the injured Darren O’Dea. It was only Kennedy’s second outing for Town, since straining his hamstring in the opening day victory at Middlesbrough.
Town entertain leaders QPR tomorrow evening, before welcoming second-placed Cardiff City to Portman Road on Saturday.
They could be seen as season-defining matches, in terms of judging whether Roy Keane’s men have what it takes to mount a promotion bid, but not in the eyes of Norris.
“It’s a big week ahead for us, but we won’t get too bogged down with it being the be-all-and-end-all,” continued Norris.
“At the moment, we are happy to still be unbeaten. It’s early in the season and everything is a bit false.
“Portsmouth won’t lose many games at home this season, so personally I think this will be a good point. It wasn’t pretty, but sometimes you have to play like that to get a result.”