The end of the ‘Ipswich way’?

THE man who last won the FA Youth Cup for the Blues has insisted that everything should be done to keep the club’s famed academy churning out young talent.

Ed Upson has given his full backing to Ipswich Town’s youth system which has heralded the likes of Richard Wright, Connor Wickham and Darren Bent, who is today expected to lead the line against World and European champions Spain.

But the conveyor belt of youngsters learning ‘the Ipswich way’ before breaking into the first team could be a thing of the past unless the club invest around �2.3 million into making the academy a ‘category one’ standard.

Failure to spend that sum could see Town lose the best young players from the area to clubs elsewhere.

Upson, who spent nine years at Town and scored the winning goal for the Blues in the FA Youth Cup in 2005, said: “There is now a lot of money in the game and I think a lot of managers bring in their own players rather than look at academies as much as they used to.

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“But academies still have a crucial role to play. Fans love to see a player break through from the youth ranks and I would like to think a club like Ipswich, who has such a great tradition, would do what they can to safeguard academy football.”

Owner Marcus Evans will have a difficult decision to make in the coming weeks over how much emphasis – and finance – to put into the club’s youth system.

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But Upson, now at Yeovil Town, said: “The academy at Ipswich was fantastic for me and the coaches were brilliant. I had a few options when I was younger but Town just seemed the right place to go. And it gave me a perfect grounding in what it takes to be a professional footballer.”

And Upson’s comments were echoed by Jordan Rhodes, now at Huddersfield, who told Sky Sports: “I have always been very grateful for the coaches at Ipswich for what they have done.

“I have got so much respect and admiration for Ipswich, I didn’t know what it would be like at 15 moving down, but luckily I went to a great club with a great academy.”

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