Roy: Town's right for Connor's education

WHILE Scunthorpe are today expected to follow up their initial enquiry about taking Liam Trotter back on loan, Ipswich Town are gearing themselves to hold on to 16-year-old striker Connor Wickham.

Elvin King

WHILE Scunthorpe are today expected to follow up their initial enquiry about taking Liam Trotter back on loan, Ipswich Town are gearing themselves to hold on to 16-year-old striker Connor Wickham.

Blues boss Roy Keane is unlikely to stand in the way of Trotter moving for a month to Scunthorpe, but Wickham is a different matter.

Keane feels that Wickham will be best served staying at the Blues famed Academy, but the situation might be out of his hands.


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Chelsea are reported to be ready to offer an initial �5 million for Wickham, which sounds far-fetched for a player who until he is 17 they only have to pay a 'compensation' fee.

It has been known for Premier League clubs to arrange 'deals' with talented youngsters' families and, even though there is no suggestion of this, a cool �1million or similar 'incentive' offer would be hard to turn down for the Wickham family.

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Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Aston Villa are all said to have sent scouts to watch Saturday's 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday when, perhaps unsurprisingly, Wickham remained an unused substitute.

But Ipswich cannot keep him anonymous for five months until his 17th birthday in March.

Keane said: “I think Ipswich is the best place for him to get his education. The success of the Academy over the years would be our argument, whether it's with Connor, his agent his dad or whatever.

“When you're a Championship club at least the boy will get an opportunity to play first-team games. Sometimes they go to these bigger clubs and it doesn't quite happen because they get lost because there's that many good players there.

“Connor's already played some first-team games, he trains with us on a regular basis and he goes away and plays with the youth team every now and again. It's a good club for him and he'll get a chance to progress.”

Keane says Town can do nothing about the current media focus on the England Under-17 international: “We can't stop speculation and that's all it is. We've seen it over the last few years, whether it's the Chelseas, the Uniteds, the Liverpools, they're more than capable of buying young players from other clubs.

“I understand that as well, that's the way of the world, they'll go and try and get the best players from other clubs. That never changes.”

The Blues boss says Wickham, who joined Town as a schoolboy from Reading's Academy after his serviceman father was posted to Colchester, is by no means the finished article: “He's got potential, just as I think I've the potential to be a top manager, but that's all it is. He's got a chance, but I've seen loads of players that you think will go right to the very top, but for one reason or another it doesn't happen.”

Town defender Pim Balkestein made his Brentford debut as the Bees drew 1-1 at home to Walsall on Saturday, but defender Jack Ainsley is still waiting to make his first appearance for Rushden and Diamonds.

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