The future’s bright – McCarthy plans to build around his young core of players

Tommy Smith is one of several young players at Ipswich Town who are only going to get better

Tommy Smith is one of several young players at Ipswich Town who are only going to get better - Credit: Archant

IPSWICH Town have the core of a team that can be built around for years to come.

That’s manager Mick McCarthy’s hope as his side look to end the season on a high, the Blues hosting Birmingham at Portman Road today before concluding the campaign at Burnley next weekend.

Under the early stages of Paul Jewell’s managerial regime the squad was filled with experienced, ex-Premier League players coming towards the end of their careers. All that has changed over the last year though.

The likes of Scott Loach, Aaron Cresswell, Tommy Smith, Luke Chambers and Luke Hyam have been impressive regulars during the team’s spectacular turnaround, while Frank Nouble and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas have come on leaps and bounds.

Teenagers Elliott Hewitt and Tyrone Mings are both exciting prospects, while academy director Bryan Klug – who today confirmed the club has applied for Category One academy status – is confident that another crop of homegrown talent is on the way.

The aforementioned nine players have an average age of just 22. None of them are out of contract this summer.

And that’s not even mentioning Anthony Wordsworth and Paul Taylor, two exciting young talents on their way to recovering fully from injury.

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“I’m optimistic that we could compete next season if we sign the right players to add to the solid base that we’ve got,” said McCarthy, whose side – adrift at the foot of the table when he arrived last November – now need just a single point to completely guarantee their division status.

“Luke Hyam was an obvious choice for me to name as most improved player this season. He’s become one of the first names penned on the team sheet.

“You’ve also got Cressie, Tommy and Chambo, perhaps another right-back next season – although Elliott (Hewitt) has done well on the two occasions he’s played.

“We’ve got Paul Taylor and Woody (Wordsworth) coming back, David McGoldrick too. None of these have any imponderables concerning their contracts.

“I’m delighted that we’ve got them as we look to move forwards next season. I think we’ve got a solid base and I’ll be optimistic if we can add some extra quality to this group.”

– See today’s EADT for a feature with academy director Bryan Klug, an Ipswich Town versus Birmingham City match preview, as well as more from manager Mick McCarthy. For live match updates, follow @Stuart_Watson and @ChrisBramms on Twitter.

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