Will Portman Road be treated to boy wonder Byron Lawrence?

PAUL Jewell has refuted any claims he might hand 16-year-old Byron Lawrence a place on the bench as some kind of “gimmick”.

The schoolboy could be included in the 16-man squad for the first time in the Championship for this afternoon’s clash with Millwall (3pm ko).

But with many fans baying for some youngsters to be blooded in the penultimate game of the season, Jewell insisted: “Giving an Ipswich shirt away is not a gimmick.”

Instead he lauded the talents of Lawrence while also not looking to build up expectations.

The Town boss said: “Byron can play in a number of positions. If we were playing in a diamond midfield, he would play in the attacking role. He can play wide, he is left footed but can play off the right.

“I don’t want to tar him with this brush but he is like Jack Wilshere. He is stocky, a left-footer. You have to be careful not to put too much expectations on his shoulders at a young age, but we think he has a chance.”

The smart money is that Lawrence will take his place on the Town bench today, possibly alongside fellow youngsters Josh Carson and Jack Ainsley.

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But American Cody Cropper might not complete a quartet of young talent with Jewell again expected to move away from having a reserve keeper on the bench.

The Town boss said earlier in the season that he would always have goalkeeping back-up after Kevin Pressman was sent off after just 13 seconds against Wolves when Jewell was boss of Sheffield Wednesday – the Owls having a sub keeper that day.

But he opted against that stance for Tuesday night’s match with Birmingham and Jewell yesterday said: “We are at a stage where if we were at the top or the bottom of the table, we would have a keeper on the bench.

“But when you look at my career of 500 games or whatever it is, the amount of times I have used a keeper off the bench is minimal.

“Sometimes in a way you think it might be better to give yourself more options.”

It is understood Football League clubs will revert back to seven subs for next season.

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