‘There’s no fear factor in their games’ – Lambert on why he handed 16-year-old duo their Ipswich Town debuts

Town manager Paul Lambert pictured at Colchester.
Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.co

Town manager Paul Lambert pictured at Colchester. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he’ll keep believing in the club’s academy talent after handing debuts to 16-year-old pair Liam Gibbs and Tawanda Chirewa tonight.

The teenage midfielders both stepped off the bench in the dying moments of a 1-0 defeat at Colchester United in the EFL Trophy, with homegrown pair Brett McGavin and Ben Folami having started the match in front of 2,781 Blues fans at the Community Stadium.

Aged 16 years and 31 days, Chirewa becomes the second youngest player in the club's history behind Connor Wickham (16 years and 11 days in April 2009).

"He looks younger than 16!" joked Lambert. "We had to get permission from his school to play - I think it's a great story.

"Him and Gibbo will go back and train at their level now, but this will give them a little taste of what being a footballer is about.

"Neither of them are frightened of the ball that's for sure. There's no fear factor in their games."

He continued: "While you're tucked up in your bed I'm standing watching the kids train most nights. The academy coaches deserve great credit for the kids that are coming through. They've got ability that's for sure.

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"If we can't go out and buy players for X amount of money then you've got to bring through your own. You've got to have somebody want to take a chance on you. If I didn't have that at St Mirren then I wouldn't be standing here and have had the career I had. They threw me in at 15 years of age.

"I put Brett in and I thought he did great. Folami did great after coming back from a hell of an (Achilles) injury he had. Tommy Hughes I know about. Little Jack Manley I think's got a really good chance as well.

"As I've said before, if I think you're good enough I'll throw you in. It gives them a taste, but I wouldn't just give them a taste for the sake of it. I think they can do things with the ball and excite people."

Defeat means Town finish second in Southern Section Group A. As a result, they will play their last 32 tie away from home. The draw is on Saturday.

"We came here and dominated the game from start to finish against a strong side and got beat by a tackle basically (Ryan Clampin's 40-yard clearance sailing in from 40 yards out).

"I'm proud of them, really, really proud. They had a strong side out, so it makes me smile about well we did."

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