A Bury boy, non-league recruit, a Frenchman, Indonesian and a Zimbabwean – Meet the latest Ipswich Town kids to taste first team action
- Credit: Archant
Four Ipswich Town youngsters made their debuts, with another two making their full debuts, in Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win against Gillingham in the EFL Trophy. STUART WATSON profiles Elkan Baggott, Liam Gibbs, Ross Crane, Zanda Siziba, Allan Viral and Tyreece Simson.
A 6ft 4in, left-footed centre-back who is comfortable on the ball.
Born in Thailand, he grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia (where his mother is from) before moving to England (where is father is from) in 2011.
He’s been described as having ‘an obsession with self development’, with coaches noting that he’s often the first in and last out at the training ground and always asking questions.
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Last year, he guested for Tottenham Hotspur in The Future U18 Cup in Holland, playing against the likes of Boca Juniors, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.
Baggott jetted off to join up with the Indonesia U19 squad following last night’s game and says he wants to help the vast islands nation (population 267 million) climb the FIFA rankings.
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“I want to play for Indonesia to make my family and my nation proud,” he said. “It is where I was brought up and where I learnt how to play football. Because of this, I want to give back to the nation and play in their colours.”
The second year scholar turns 18 in just over a fortnight and could well be the next in line to sign a professional deal at Portman Road.
A Bury St Edmunds boy who has been at the club since Under-9 level.
He’s another who has guested for Tottenham, playing for their U15s on a tour of the USA back in 2017.
Upon starting his scholarship last summer, Gibbs was described by the club as: “A creative player with good ball control. Able to play a number of positions depending upon formation. Eye for a pass and can open up defences with his quality. Good leadership and communication skills.”
The former County Upper School pupil made his Town debut as a late sub in the EFL Trophy match at Colchester last November then signed a professional deal on his 17th birthday. He turns 18 on December 16.
A powerful left-footer who was let go by Colchester United.
He subsequently joined AFC Sudbury’s academy and starred as their Under-18s won a third straight Thurlow Nunn Youth League Championship and lifted the Suffolk Boys’ U18s Midweek Cup at Portman Road. He also scored the golden goal winner as the Yellows won the Albion Las Vegas Memorial Day Cup in Nevada, USA.
A move to Bury Town followed. He broke into Mark Morsley’s team at just 16, initially playing at left-back, then got pushed forward onto the left-side of a diamond under Ben Chenery. Having helped the West Suffolk side to a second place finish in the Isthmian North table, Ipswich came calling.
Chenery said: “He’s 17, but he’s got the body of a man – his dad must be about 6ft 5ins, so he’s going to be a big lad. He’s very powerful when he goes through the gears.
“We had Jack Lankester on loan here (in 2018). In terms of personality they’re quite different - Ross is quite quiet while Jack is a big character – but they’re similar as players, both left footed and very talented, so it’s like watching history repeat itself.
“He’s very humble and has his feet on the ground.”
Started out at Dagenham and Redbridge and was then highly-rated in the Tottenham youth set-up.
He was highlighted in the Mirror as one of six youngsters ‘tipped to reach the top’ in 2018. His playing style was compared to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in that article.
Siziba joined Ipswich midway through the 2018/19 campaign. The 17-year-old second year scholar, whose nationality is listed as Zimbabwean, is another left-footer. Blessed with pace, he can play on either flank or centrally.
The club have previously described him as thus: “He can come short and link play but also has the ability to play off the shoulder and run defenders away to create space for others. Zanda also has the athletic attributes to beat and commit the opposition.”
He’s now looking to kick on after last season was disrupted by injuries.
Part of Town’s recruitment drive in Paris which also brought over the likes of Idris El Mizouni and Lounes Foudil.
The French teenager, now 19, is a slight but busy wide midfielder who is very good technically on the ball. There are young Kieron Dyer qualities there.
He scored twice for the Under-23s in a 2-2 draw against Watford back in February.
Town keeper coach Jimmy Walker tweeted after last night’s game: “Brilliant from the young uns. Before the game Allan came in soaking wet and out of breath...I asked him how and he said he came on his bike. After the game I watched him unlock his push bike and ride off to his digs. You gotta love it!”
Town fans already know a little bit about the strong, left-footed centre-forward after his breakthrough last season.
The Ipswich-born youngster excelled at athletics and rugby growing up in Norfolk and was offered a professional deal by Premiership giants Leicester Tigers as he approached his 17th birthday.
Football was his love though and he got spotted by Mark Kennedy playing in the PlayStation Cup for his school. Kennedy, then a coach at Man City, subsequently recommended him to his former club Ipswich.
Last season saw him make his debut as a sub in the EFL Trophy. A professional deal followed, along with sub appearances in League One against Blackpool, Fleetwood and Coventry leading up the premature finish to the campaign.