Teenage Connor is potential Blues star

ANOTHER potential star could about to burst through from Ipswich Town's acclaimed academy.

Derek Davis

ANOTHER potential star could about to burst through from Ipswich Town's acclaimed academy.

Burly 15-year-old Connor Wickham is being tipped to break into Jim Magilton's first team squad after impressing for England under 16s and Town's Under 18s and reserves.

Although he still goes to school in Colchester, Wickham is set to be fast-tracked through the Blues set up after catching the eye of manager Jim Magilton who has confirmed he is considering naming him in a senior squad over the festive period.

Wickham went on as a second half substitute in Town reserves' 2-1 league defeat at Playford Road yesterday afternoon and second string manager Chris Kiwomya is not surprised his boss is thinking of handing him more experience.

Kiwomya said: “Connor has the physical presence and ability and he has a good footballing brain.

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“You don't just look at the physical size of a player it is about can he play football and without a doubt I feel he can.

“If he does get in the first team soon it is a bonus because it is about developing.

“The gaffer and Bryan are good judges of a player and if they believe he is ready then he will get his chance, as can others.”

Town's youngest player so far is Jason Dozzell who made his debut aged 16 years 57 days and Wickham, born March 31 1993, has another four and a half months to break that record.

In all likelihood though Wickham may be eased into the first team squad for experience and to get used to the set up but may not actually play initially, although like many fringe players could get his chance at the end of the season if there is nothing riding on the game.

Kiwomya, who made his Town debut at 18, is confident Magilton will know exactly whether time is right to blood the striker.

He said: “Connor has a lot of talent and there is a big difference between reserve team and first team football. My job is to bring these players through slowly and help them develop.

“Alex Ferguson when he had his group he brought them through bit by bit and they came through together.

“Similarly at Arsenal, although he has the pick of the bunch. What people may not see is that these 16 or 17 years old don't just get thrown into the first team and play they have trained with them for a year or so already.

“So they get experience and confidence and are ready.”

Town have four strikers already in the senior 16 and with Jordan Rhodes also in contention Wickham is still down the pecking order although, like others in his age group, the incentive is there.

Under 18s Ronan Murray and Seb Dunbar have also been doing well in the reserves and youth team and the reserves are packed with players striving to break through.

Kiwomya said: “We want these youngsters hungry and wanting to get into the first team. This is what Ipswich Town is about bringing young players through.”

“The players have to be hungry and they have to take the opportunity when it is there. Sometimes people don't take them and think another will come along and there may not be a next time.

“I learnt the game at Ipswich watching the senior pros and all of a sudden I was given the chance and I was afraid of failing so I grasped it.”

Wickham scored in England under 16s 2-0 Victory Shield win over Scotland last month and has also represented England's Under 17s.