Tommy relishing chance to show skills

IPSWICH Town rising star Tommy Smith is relishing the chance to show his skills in tonight's FA Youth Cup game at a Premier League ground.The young Blues play Aston Villa at Villa Park in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup (kick-off 7pm) with central defender Smith having a vital part to play if Ipswich are to reach the last eight.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town rising star Tommy Smith is relishing the chance to show his skills in tonight's FA Youth Cup game at a Premier League ground.

The young Blues play Aston Villa at Villa Park in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup (kick-off 7pm) with central defender Smith having a vital part to play if Ipswich are to reach the last eight.

Tipped by a number of respected coaches to make a big name in the game, Smith is being likened to a young Kevin Beattie and Terry Butcher.


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“This is very flattering,” said Macclesfield-born Smith, who is an England Under-18 international and along with two-goal Jordan Rhodes was the star of the 3-1 home win over Watford in the last round.

“But at the moment I am concentrating on learning my trade and hopefully helping Ipswich win tonight.

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“It is a privilege to be linked with names like Beattie and Butcher, but there is a long way to go.

“At the moment my aim is to be ready if my chance comes to play in the first team.”

Smith has suffered injury and illness this season, and missed an England game against Ghana at Gillingham last autumn.

His strength and reading of the game make him stand out, and along with ace marksman Rhodes, Ed Upson - in his fourth season of FA Youth Cup action having scored the winner in the 2005 final - and Jai Reason his reserve experience will be vital tonight.

Smith feels that winning the trophy four seasons ago will spur on the team tonight.

“We know how they felt after they beat Southampton in the final,” said Smith.

“It was so special, and gives them something to tell their grand children.

“This is a different team, but we want to experience the same feeling.”

It will also be a big night for Sammy Morgan, the head of education at the Blues academy.

The 61-year-old former centre forward, who won 18 Northern Ireland caps, was on Aston Villa's books from 1973 until 1976.

“We won promotion to the old First Division while I was there,” said Morgan, who lives in Great Yarmouth and travels to the Blues' Playford Road training ground every day.

“I still know a number of people at the club including former chairman Doug Ellis and ex-player Gordon Cowans who is involved with the Villa youth set up.”

Morgan, who also played for Brighton and Cambridge United and Dutch sides Sparta Rotterdam and FC Groningen, became a teacher in Gorleston where he played in the Ridgeons League.

In January 1998 he became the full time Norwich City youth development officer and joined Ipswich in 2004.

“Aston Villa beat Norwich City 1-0 in the League Cup final when I was there,” added Morgan. “I was injured and missed out, but the pain was eased because I had played at Wembley for Northern Ireland.

“Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, is a former international team mate of mine who was also at Norwich.”

Aston Villa youth coach Tony McAndrew is expecting a difficult game. He said: “Ipswich are a top academy side.

“We got a pasting at their place in this competition three years ago. They are a good side but we can give anyone a game.

“We haven't played the same team in our two previous games in the competition. People have come in, done a job and the team hasn't been affected.

“Youth Cup games are great nights. I really look forward to them because I look to see how the lads react to the pressure. We were excellent against Crewe, and our 1-0 success at Colchester was as good an away performance as I have seen this season.”

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