Just like dad! Sixteen-year-old Andre Dozzell scores on Ipswich Town debut to match Jason’s feat
Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy is confident that the club can keep hold of starlet Andre Dozzell after the 16-year-old scored on his debut this afternoon.
The England Under-17 international midfielder came on at half-time and headed home an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday to further enhance his growing reputation.
Aged 16 and 350 days, to be precise, he had repeated the feat of his father Jason – who scored on his Town debut at the age of 16 years and 57 days back in 1984 – to inject some much-needed feelgood factor into a frustrating campaign.
Born and bred in Ipswich, Jason, who is now an academy coach at the club, told his paper recently that he sees his son’s future as being at Portman Road – despite a host of Premier League clubs circling. It’s understood the former Copleston High School pupil will sign a professional deal on his 17th birthday next month.
“I’m not in here to talk about his contract,” said McCarthy. “He’s a very good player and as we know he’s attracting interest from everywhere else, but I think he’ll want to play in our first team and that’s what his dad thinks as well.
“I might as well pack it up if I lose players of that quality. To be fair, (owner) Marcus (Evans) has always kept hold of the club’s best players. I’ve no worries about that one.
“I remember being the manager at Millwall and Mark Kennedy, who is now our Under-21s manager, got in my first team and Liverpool signed him. He hit the crossbar on his debut and didn’t play again for them for about 12 months and ended up moving on. He had a good career but it wasn’t at Liverpool because he was beneath the standard they wanted.
“I think playing in someone’s first team is better than driving a nice car, having a nice watch and having an nice house. You’ll get that eventually anyway, just cool your heels and make sure you do it first with us.”
Asked if he felt Dozzell’s moment felt like fate today, he said: “I don’t know about ‘written in the stars’. He’s got good genes hasn’t he? I guess good genes produce good players. That’s what’s happened. He is a good player and I thought he deserved his opportunity. I always said that if it looked like the season was drifting away from us then he would get his chance.
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“It wasn’t working what I did in the first half and I wanted a bit more creativity. Thankfully it worked.
“Is he 16 still? We were talking about him when he was 14 – I was never going to play him then though! He’s gone on a weights programme with Lidds (fitness coach Andy Liddell) and has got stronger. How he scored with a header when he missed two in training yesterday I don’t know! He gets in the box and is a really talented young player.”
With Town still eight points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday heading into their final four games, McCarthy said: “It is a good point, but it doesn’t do us a great deal of good other than giving us a bit of comfort that we’ve got a group of lads that really want to scrap and fight and play. We got something out of a game that could have drifted away from us.
“It was great to have Didzy (David McGoldrick) back – another good quality player who showed his ability today. And Bish (Teddy Bishop) will be playing on Monday in the Under-21s. It’s nice to have good players in the team.”
Asked about the incident at the end of the game when Brett Pitman reacted angrily to team-mate Jonas Knudsen shooting instead of passing, the Blues striker chasing the Dane halfway across the pitch gesticulating manically before being calmed down by staff, McCarthy said: “I understand him being angry at it because we may well have scored the winner, but for me that anger can only go so far. I’ve just said to him, I have to love you all, warts and all, for what you give me – whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. I think you have to be the same with your team-mates.
“There’s no point having a scrap about it is there? That’s not going to help anybody. What will help is if the next time he (Knudsen) gets in that position he sees him and we improve because of it. We can’t implode and fall out and have a scrap.
“We all make mistakes. If I didn’t make mistakes I’d be managing Real Madrid, Barcelona or Man United – but I’m not that good. And the players aren’t that good. Maybe that’s the difference between us being in the top six or getting promoted. That’s just the way it is unfortunately.”
– see Monday’s EADT and Ipswich Star for comment, analysis and more reaction.