Richards wants to stay a Blue

IT was a fantastic start for Roy Keane. But it didn't match the fairytale rise from nowhere of 24-year-old Matt Richards, who was brought in by the new Ipswich Town manager because of a glut of injuries.

Elvin King

IT was a fantastic start for Roy Keane.

But it didn't match the fairytale rise from nowhere of 24-year-old Matt Richards, who was brought in by the new Ipswich Town manager because of a glut of injuries.

Used to spending his Saturday afternoons away from football and playing in front of a few 100 captaining the Blues reserves team, Richards was heading for the football scrap heap after playing over 150 Town games before his 22nd birthday.


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Now the defender, who was a regular in Town's two play-off years under Joe Royle, is buzzing again - and has his fingers crossed about receiving a new contract in the summer.

“Why did I not feature for two years? You will have to ask the previous manager,” said Richards, who is an England Under-21 international and Town's youngest-ever European player.

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Apart from being an unused substitute at Coventry in the middle of last season, Richards did not figure in Jim Magilton's plans after the 3-0 home win against Plymouth in March 2007.

He more than held his own at Ninian Park, and said: “I love it at Ipswich, love the club and was thankful to get this opportunity.

“There was a time when I thought I'd played my last game for the club.

“But I was never going to slack off in training. It's been a frustrating, difficult time but I've just tried to get my head down and work hard.”

His last senior game was in December while on loan at Brighton, and Richards added:

“I knew there was a chance I might play but only found in the hotel team-talk before the game. I'd love to stay and would be over the moon if I was offered something new.”

His finest moment was an impeccably-timed challenge on Michael Chopra, and helped Town's makeshift defence keep a clean sheet - and extend their run of recent good away displays after Reading, Wolves and Bristol City.

Richards has been impressed by new boss Keane. “He's brought new things in already and his training sessions have been quick and high-tempo, which is how I like to play football,” said Richards.

“His arrival has really lifted spirits and the lads are determined to show him what they're capable of.

“I'm sure he'll do a good job here. He did at Sunderland and I'm confident he will at Ipswich.”

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