Klug confident plenty more academy players will follow in the footsteps of Bishop and Clarke
- Credit: James Ager
Ipswich Town academy director Bryan Klug is confident a new generation of homegrown stars are about to emerge at the club.
The Blues’ Under-18 side take on Essex neighbours Colchester United in the third round of the FA Youth Cup tonight, at The Weston Homes Community Stadium (7pm ko).
Since winning the competition in 2005, beating a Southampton side including the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Adam Lallana in the final, Town have failed to make it past the fifth round.
It’s been a dry period for the club’s once famed youth production line, but Klug – let go under Roy Keane’s management but brought back to the club soon after Mick McCarthy took charge – is excited by the current crop of kids coming through.
“You’re never 100% sure how they will develop, but we’ve got a lot of young players – in my opinion – who a lot of the bigger clubs would love to have on their books,” said the esteemed coach.
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“They have role models in the first team set-up such as Tommy Smith and Luke Hyam, and now Teddy Bishop and Matthew Clarke too. It proves to them that there is a pathway to the first team. They know that, if they’re good enough, they will be given a chance by the manager.
“I’m confident we’ve got a few more coming through.”
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The likes of Andre Dozzell, George Fowler, Kundai Benyu, Monty Patterson, Joshua Emmanuel, Victor Gulbrandsen, Cory Galvin and Sam Ford have all featured for the club’s Under-21s this season, despite still being aged 16 to 17.
“The FA Youth Cup is the competition they all look forward to the most,” said Klug. “It can give them a chance to play at big stadiums.
“Colchester is a tough tie for us though because they are putting a lot of work into their academy.”
Meanwhile, Town’s head of youth recruitment, Steve McGavin, insists the club’s main focus is on attracting the best local talent.
The current Under-18 squad contains Danish midfielder Guldbrandsen, New Zealand-born winger Patterson and Irish strike duo Shane McLoughlin (Republic) and Jonathan Smith (Northern).
Dozzell, Edward Ellis, Ford, Nick Ingram and Chris Smith are all Ipswich boys though, while George Fowler attended Debenham High School.
And the rest come from Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and London.
“Our priority will always be the eastern region,” said former Colchester United striker McGavin. “We do supplement that with one or two from further afield, but that is certainly not the strategy.
“We want the best local lads to see Ipswich Town as the best place for them to progress into the professional game. We’ve got a first team manager in Mick McCarthy who is proving, with the likes of Teddy Bishop and Matthew Clarke, that he’s willing to give young players a chance if they’re good enough.
“I think parents are releasing that there is a pathway to the first team here, whereas that might not be the case at bigger clubs.”