No plans to scrap Town reserve side

IPSWICH have no plans to scrap their reserve side, manager Joe Royle insisted last night.The Portman Road second string will definitely continue, despite Town having to quit the Premier Reserve League (South) once their remaining three games against Norwich, Leicester and Watford, all away from home, have been completed.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH have no plans to scrap their reserve side, manager Joe Royle insisted last night.

The Portman Road second string will definitely continue, despite Town having to quit the Premier Reserve League (South) once their remaining three games against Norwich, Leicester and Watford, all away from home, have been completed.

Royle said: “There is absolutely no way we are going to give up on reserve football at this club. We still regard it as a vital component.


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“We would never do anything to halt the progress of our up-and-coming youngsters. A reserve team has a worthwhile function, acting as it does as a bridge between the youth team and the first team.”

But despite the club's intention to continue, the question of which form reserve football will take next season remains unanswered.

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One possibility is the formation of a new East Anglian league involving Ipswich, Norwich and a number of other clubs, although the idea is still at the discussion stage.

Another option, albeit less attractive, is to play a series of friendlies throughout the season and Royle added: “Reserve team football has changed beyond all recognition over the years but our view is that there remains a need for it.

“When I think back to my time as a youngster at Everton I remember playing in a reserve fixture against Liverpool in front of 13,000 spectators.

“They were quite clever back then. They would play it on the same day as the Merseyside derby so the fans that couldn't get into the first team fixture would turn up and watch the reserves, whether at Goodison or Anfield.

“I can also recall an occasion when I played alongside nine international players in the reserves, which made it easy for me.

“That can't happen nowadays, with clubs trimming their squads and operating with fewer players at their disposal, but a reserve team can still fulfil a purpose.

“It's about natural progression. You will occasionally find a kid who can step straight into the first team from the Academy, but generally speaking the reserve team still offers the more conventional route.”

Whatever the structure, Portman Road will no longer be home to the Town reserves and Monday's 2-1 home defeat by Charlton signalled the end of an era.

The experiment of playing last month's game against West Ham at Needham Market was hailed a success and the same venue is likely to stage further games next season.

Royle said: “Things worked out extremely well for that game. Needham were excellent hosts - the hospitality was first class - and we would not hesitate to go back there.

“At the moment the picture is unclear and I wouldn't deny things are up in the air. But it is still very early days and the situation is on-going.

“I have discussed things with Derek Bowden, the chief executive, and Academy director Bryan Klug, to see which direction we are taking and to be honest we don't yet know.

“But we are remaining positive about the future. Reserve football stays - that's a certainty - and we might even be able to work something out that suits us better.

“It could be in our favour if we're in control of the games and where we play them.”

Former Ipswich midfielder Martijn Reuser will be on the move in his native Holland this summer after agreeing a switch to RKC Waalwijk when his contract with current club Willem II expires.

Iceland Under-17 international Viktor Unnar Illugason will be one of the Academy recruits at Portman Road next season.

All eight new boys, accompanied by their parents, will attend the annual induction ceremony taking place on Friday.

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