Where have all Town youngsters gone?

WHERE have all the Ipswich Town youngsters – and the substitutes - gone?

This is a question fans are asking themselves following the appointment of Paul Jewell as Blues manager.

During Roy Keane’s reign he was always bemoaning that he had no alternative than to play inexperienced players and had nothing like the strength on the bench that his rivals had.

In less than a month this has all changed.

Jimmy Bullard is the only newcomer used although Lee Martin has been brought back from a loan at Charlton, but all of a sudden Ipswich appear to have a stronger squad.

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Luke Hyam, Tom Eastman, Ronan Murray, Troy Brown and to a lesser extent Reggie Lambe were regulars in Keane’s final 18.

In the 2-1 Championship victory at Derby County on Tuesday they were nowhere to be seen with Jewell able to select seven strong substitutes in Arran Lee-Barrett, Jamie Peters, Jason Scotland, Tommy Smith, Colin Healy, Luca Civelli and Darren O’Dea.

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Injuries along the way did not help Keane’s cause, but not to the extent where Town’s youngsters suddenly appear some distance away from first team football.

This suggests better man management skills perhaps by Jewell and bodes well for a move up the table.

There could be loan movements between now and the end of the season to give youngsters valuable experience.

And while being named substitute by Keane gave a player a 40% chance of getting some action, the odds are stacked much more steeply under Jewell.

In only two games this season did Keane not use three substitutions, and in every game in his final four months in charge.

Jewell has not withdrawn one player in the last two league games, and the only change in his league games was to replace Mark Kennedy with Jason Scotland at Millwall.

Before the Doncaster home game on January 22 it was exactly six years to the day - when they drew 1-1 at Reading – that Ipswich last failed to use a substitute. That run added up to 299 games of which 272 were in the league.

Striker Connor Wickham, 17, has been nominated in the Championship apprentice of the year category at this year’s Football League awards. Despite recently signing a new professional contract until 2013, Wickham is still a second-year academy.

The England Under-21 international faces competition from Adam Thompson (Watford) and Wilfred Zaha (Crystal Palace) at a gala ceremony at The Brewery, London on Sunday March 20.

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