'Shane deserved his first-team chance'

ROY Keane does not know how Shane O'Connor found out his phone number, when he rang him up last summer, but he's mightily glad that he did!

Carl Marston

ROY Keane does not know how Shane O'Connor found out his phone number, when he rang him up last summer, but he's mightily glad that he did!

O'Connor could just be the answer to Ipswich Town's long-running left-back problem, after he caught the eye on his Football League debut at Sheffield Wednesday.

The 19-year-old certainly did not look out of place as he delivered a composed display to help Town to a 1-0 win at Hillsborough.

Former Liverpool Academy defender O'Connor, who can also operate in midfield, signed a one-year contract with Town last summer.

He made his senior debut as a second-half substitute at Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup in August, but has had to wait a further seven months to start his first League game. His cause was not helped by a long-term injury.

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Keane said: “Shane phoned me last summer and persuaded me to give him a trial.

“In fact, I'm not quite sure how he got my (phone) number in the first place!

“But I was immediately taken by his enthusiasm and desire. He made a good impression on me in training. I saw a good side to him.

“He really pestered me for a contract. In a way, he was just like Arran (Lee-Barrett) in that he only came to the club to train for a few days.

“But he was desperate to do well. The injury knocked him back, but he's captain of the Reserves and he scored a couple of goals the other day (at Southend).

“The left-back position has been a problem for us all season, and he deserved his chance.

“Shane didn't look like a raw teenager out there making his debut, even though they put some experienced players on him. And that's because he's had such a good upbringing. He was at Liverpool, and although it didn't work out for him there, he's had a good grounding.

“He's also a very popular lad with the rest of the players,” said Keane.

Town boss Keane once again insisted that he was taking the blame for the club's current lowly position, although he hopes that his side can now finally “kick on” and record back-to-back wins at Scunthorpe tomorrow.

The Irishman added: “We had all been hurt by the criticism of Tuesday night (3-1 defeat at Peterborough), because we had let people down.

“A manager is paid to make decisions and I've got a lot wrong this year. Maybe I got one or two right today, I don't know.

“When the team is not doing well the buck has to stop with the manager and I've not done well enough this season, but we have to get through this sticky patch if I want to be a top manager.

“We have won games before, and not kicked on. Hopefully we can now do this.

“Even though we were 1-0 up at half-time, we haven't kept enough clean sheets recently, so we knew Sheffield Wednesday were still in the game.

“We have not been able to finish off games this season, and have been punished too often. But I felt that we did just enough today.”

Keane praised his match-winner, Carlos Edwards, and also his midfield maestro Grant Leadbitter, whom he had substituted during the second half at Peterborough. It was the first time Leadbitter had been taken off in a game this season.

“Grant was disappointed with his performance the other night, and he was disappointed when I took him off,” said Keane.

“But I like that in a player. I hoped that he would react in that way, and he played well today.

“Carlos (Edwards) was fresh and hungry and desperate to play. He has always had goals in his locker, and as soon as he hit it, I knew that it was a goal.

“He set himself up with the first touch. It had a goal written all over it,” added Keane.

Sheffield Wednesday boss, Alan Irvine, said: “I'm very disappointed.

“It was a big game for us and there is no hiding that fact.

“It was a game we desperately wanted to win, but we didn't show enough composure or quality on the ball. We didn't open Ipswich enough.”