Town youngsters not expected to feature against Birmingham

YOUNG trio Josh Carson, Luke Hyam and Byron Lawrence will have to remain patient for a first team spot after Paul Jewell admitted they were unlikely to feature against Birmingham.

With many Town fans thinking tonight’s home match against play-off chasing City – and the subsequent two final matches – would be an ideal time to blood youngsters, Jewell only partially agrees.

He yesterday said it would be unfair to Birmingham’s play-off rivals to play a young side at Portman Road, but continued to drop big hints that youngsters would get their chance at home to Millwall on Saturday and then at Doncaster on the final day a week later.

He said: “They (Birmingham) are a strong side and we have to be fair to everybody else as well as ourselves.

“We will take those games very seriously but there will be some changes for Millwall, who are safe, and Doncaster who are relegated.”

Lawrence trained with the first-team squad over the Easter holidays and again yesterday and Jewell said: “It is a different environment – certainly for Byron.

“Byron has done fine in training, he is only 16 and I think he has a lot of attributes. We want to keep it as low-key as possible. There are no guarantees he will play but he is not fazed by training with the first team.

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“He is learning all the time. They are all terrific pros and hopefully they can get a game before the end of the season.”

With young American keeper Cody Cropper expected to be on the bench tonight, some supporters would also like to see left-back Joe Whight included before the end of the season.

But Jewell admitted the youngster had found it difficult to adapt during his first year as a professional.

The manager said: “I think Joe, at times this year, has found it tough. We stepped him up from a scholar to a pro and he will be better when he comes back next year – as he will know what is expected.

“We have high hopes for Joe. This season for different reasons, and sometimes it happens with young players, he hasn’t really got into a rhythm, whether in training or matches for the youth team or reserves.

“He hasn’t really lived up to expectations but I am sure with a year under his belt, and knowing what it is like to be a pro, Joe will be much better and hopefully pushing Cressie (Aaron Cresswell) to get into the team.”

While Jewell is clearly looking to target young signings, he admitted he was disappointed that only Callum Bennett from the current crop of Town second-year scholars was offered a professional deal recently – one the right-back is still negotiating amid interest elsewhere.

Jewell said: “You want to be offering young lads pro contracts, but the staff felt, and I sided with them, that only Callum should be offered a contract.

“We want to be offering contracts rather than let young players go but they have to be good enough.”

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