Wales Under-21 Elliott Hewitt will return to Ipswich Town a better player, says former England caretaker manager
- Credit: Archant
Elliott Hewitt has been backed to return to Ipswich Town a better player, following a successful loan spell at League One Gillingham last season.
Gills’ boss Peter Taylor snapped up the Wales Under-21 right-back on a temporary basis, shortly after being appointed manager of the Kent club for a second time last November.
The former Macclesfield youngster, who moved to Portman Road in the summer of 2012, went on to make 20 appearances for the Priestfield outfit, playing predominantly in defence, but also in midfield.
His contribution helped Gillingham secure their League One survival and left Taylor sure he can make the grade in the Championship.
“We were not the best team in the league and Elliott played in some difficult matches, against some difficult opponents, and will return to Ipswich with more strings to his bow,” said Taylor.
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“As a manager, you send your younger players out on loan to gain experience and be put in situations where they are required to make decisions that can make them better players. That all happened for Elliott.”
Hewitt made four appearances for Gillingham before an ankle injury curtailed his stay, returning after Christmas once he was fully fit.
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“It was not easy playing for us and when he came, he was joining a group of players low on confidence and a dressing room with not many voices in it,” Taylor added.
“He was outstanding in his first game at Sheffield United and then he got injured and had to go back which stopped his flow a bit.
“He came back and the loan benefited both parties as we were able to gain enough points to stay in the division.”
Hewitt is set to return to pre-season training with Mick McCarthy’s men and will be keen to make an impact, Town having used Luke Chambers and loanee Frazer Richardson at right-back last season.
“If I was Elliott I would go back to Ipswich, have a rest, and then return to pre-season training the fittest I have ever been,” explained Taylor.
“That will hopefully give him an advantage in July and on the pitch he just needs to keep doing the right things.”
Hewitt began last season in McCarthy’s first-choice XI but soon lost his place to Chambers and ended the season as a versatile performer, having played in midfield for Taylor.
“He seemed to really enjoy it,” said the former England caretaker boss.
“He wanted to get forward with or without the ball and looked like he relished that side of the game.
“He did not have to worry about being in a one-on-one situation and all of a sudden he had that freedom and a licence to get forwards.”
Taylor also took young striker Jack Marriott on loan last season but the young hitman returned to another loan club, non-league Woking, after just one game from the bench.
“I was disappointed to see Jack (Marriott) leave but I totally respected his decision,” Taylor said.
“We could not do anything more at that time for Jack and it was refreshing to see a young player want to go to the Conference and play 90 minutes for Woking rather than come on as a substitute for a few minutes.”
Taylor’s team host Town in a pre-season friendly on July 26, with a 3pm kick-off, and Taylor added: “I have a terrific relationship with Ipswich and I have always had a good connection with the various managers there.
“I had a short spell at Stevenage, during which time I borrowed Tommy Smith and Sammy Moore and such a relationship is good for a club of our size.”