Town star’s career hung in the balance

IPSWICH TOWN: Six months ago 18-year-old Luke Hyam did not know if he had a future with the Blues.

But given a one-year contract by manager Roy Keane, the measure of how vital he has become was shown when the former Northgate High School pupil was given a starting place against Coventry at Portman Road on Saturday ahead of experienced Town skipper David Norris.

Both returned from one-match bans, but 29-year-old Norris had to start on the bench in the 2-1 Championship defeat against the Sky Blues.

Hyam, who made his debut in the opening game of the season at Middlesbrough after impressing playing in front of the back four in pre-season, recalled the day his career started to take off.

“I finished my scholarship last season and it was a worrying time as there were of a lot of good players in my age group,” said Hyam in his first interview since making the grade.

“It was felt that some of us would be let go.

“I was left hoping I wasn’t going to be one of them, and as I was last to go in it was pretty nerve-wracking.

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“We were lined up outside the manager’s door and after a five minute chat the other lads were coming out and saying, ‘yeah I’ve got a year’.

“I was thinking I might miss out, but the manager gave me a chance and although it’s gone okay so far I know I’ve got a long way to go yet.”

Hyam was named on the bench a couple of times at the end of last season and has been a virtual regular this campaign, which is an example to all local youngsters who dream of playing at Portman Road in front of 20,000.

“I was 12 when I joined the Ipswich academy after losing out when I had a trial for the Under-nine squad,” recalled Hyam.

“I was spotted while playing for Kesgrave.

“Now I have come up against some experienced players who have tried to wind me up with Clint Hill and Shaun Derry having a bit of a pop during the QPR game.”

One downside to Hyam’s amazing rise up the football ladder was a red card at Reading.

“I was very na�ve and I’ve got to learn from it,” he reflected.

“I let my frustration get the better of me and you can’t let that happen. It was disappointing but as long as I learn from the experience hopefully it will help in the long run.”

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