Ten young Town players to watch in 2022
- Credit: Swindon Town FC
With the New Year upon us, Mark Heath takes a look at some young Ipswich Town players who could have a big 2022..
We start with a player who's not actually pulling on a Town shirt at the moment, but that's a good thing.
Young striker Simpson, 19, is currently on loan at Swindon Town - and he's ripping it up.
The former rugby player has bagged 10 goals in 26 games so far, for a Robins side who sit fifth in League Two.
Simpson, who's played seven times for Town's senior side, has always had the physicality to handle the rough and tumble of men's football in the lower leagues - but now he's showing he can bag the goals too.
Should start for Swindon when they host mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup Third Round on Friday - and it will be fascinating to see how he fares against elite competition.
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Has earned himself a good look from new boss Kieran McKenna when he returns to Suffolk in the summer.
The teenager came from nowhere in the summer to shine during pre-season, before earning a senior debut in the Carabao Cup against Newport back in August.
He's since made his full league debut, and looked far from out of his depth.
The 18-year-old has been superb for the U23s too, with scouts from several top clubs tracking his progress.
Humphreys is primarily a midfielder, but he's capable of playing in a number of positions.
An intriguing prospect for McKenna and his team to work with.
Clements had a surprise run as Paul Cook's starting left back earlier this season, showing that he's capable at this level.
Having come on at half-time of the EFL Trophy clash with Colchester on November 9, Clements started the next six games as Cook searched for a winning formula.
He was particularly impressive on his debut against Oxford, but hasn't played since the 0-0 FA Cup draw with Barrow which cost Cook his job in December.
Clements is fit as a fiddle and can get up and down the left flank, plus is clearly not overawed by playing on the big stage. Indeed, Lee Evans called him 'superb' after that impressive Oxford debut.
It seems likely that Town will look to strengthen their left side in this transfer window, so he may find his opportunities limited for the rest of the season - a loan out would perhaps help his progress.
Big Elkan was on this list last year, and he's progressed nicely since.
As well as being a key part of the Town under 18 side which reached the last four of the FA Youth Cup, centre-back Baggott made his senior Town debut in the EFL Trophy and impressed while out on loan at King's Lynn Town.
Baggott, 19, a former student at St Benedict's Catholic College in Colchester, stands 6ft 4ins, has a background in athletics and appears set to be a future star.
He's already a star on social media - boasting more followers on Instagram than Town do as a club.
Another name to make this list last year, it feels like Ndaba has been the next big thing for an eternity now.
The talented centre-back is still just 22 though and, after playing for Town in the Carabao Cup loss to Newport back in August, headed out on loan to League Two Salford City.
He started really well there, earning rave reviews and a regular starting spot, before coming off injured at half-time of their 3-1 away loss at Forest Green on October 23rd.
He's not played since, as he battles back from injury.
Ndaba remains a real talent though - good in the air, strong and comfortable with the ball at his feet. If he can get back to action, another half season of League Two football will stand him in good stead.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has been scoring goals for fun for Town's under 23s, and looks a real prospect.
Chirewa, who comes from Witham, became the second-youngest debutant for Town ever - behind only Connor Wickham - when, at just 16 years and 31 days old, he came on as a late sub in the EFL Trophy clash at Colchester in November 2019.
He scored a belter for the Blues in their first pre-season game this campaign too, the winner in a 1-0 triumph at Dartford, and is under contract until this summer, with the club having the option to add another 12 months.
Speaking back in 2020, Town's U18 coach Adem Atay said of him: "He is somebody who can create and score. Needs to keep focused now he's dipped his toe in the first team environment."
The young defender made his first start for the Blues in their EFL Trophy defeat to West Ham U21s back in September.
Still just 17, he can play both left back and centre-back and has been at the club since U8 level.
Colchester born and raised, he's already been linked to Liverpool in his short career so far, but signed his first pro deal at the Blues back in June.
Atay said of Armin: "A very good character who leads vocally and by example. Nominated by his team-mates to be vice-captain. A little bit old school, in that he likes to defend aggressively and on the front foot, but also likes to play too. Can play left-back or as a left-sided centre-back."
A very intriguing prospect, Yengi is a 6ft 5ins striker who can also play as a left-sided forward or attacking midfielder.
The 21-year-old Australian signed on a free transfer from Australian A-League outfit Newcastle Jets in September.
He's already opened his account for the U23s, and packs an unusual blend of size, pace and skill.
The 18-year-old midfielder/winger has played twice for the senior side in the EFL Trophy this season, having made his debut and been handed his first start by Paul Lambert in the same competition last campaign.
The Blues snapped him up after he was released by Spurs at under 16 level.
Atay said of him: "Athletic. Technically very good, he can manipulate the ball in tight areas. Has a good understanding for what’s needed to play as a striker or in the midfield unit. Can come short and link play. Can also play off the shoulder and create space for others.”
Perhaps the rawest talent on this list, but keep an eye on the powerful 19-year-old winger.
He was among many youngsters to make their debuts in the EFL Trophy against Gillingham in October 2020, then started in the same competition at Crawley.
He signed from Bury Town that summer, where he'd earned comparisons to former Ipswich star Jack Lankester, who spent time on loan at Ram Meadow.
And Crane is currently back on loan at Bury, where's he's scored three goals in six games, including a strike in their big 4-1 win over local rivals AFC Sudbury on Saturday.
Bury boss Ben Chenery said of Crane: "He’s got the body of a man – his dad must be about 6ft 5ins, so he’s going to be a big lad. He’s very powerful when he goes through the gears.
“We had Jack Lankester on loan here (in 2018). In terms of personality they’re quite different - Ross is quite quiet while Jack is a big character – but they’re similar as players, both left footed and very talented, so it’s like watching history repeat itself.
“He’s very humble and has his feet on the ground."