Prolific teenage goalscorer Connor Ingram one of three 17-year-olds from non-league on trial with Ipswich Town
- Credit: Archant
Goal-shy Ipswich Town have handed a trial to prolific teenage non-league scorer Connor Ingram as part of a big drive to discover local talent.
Ingram, 17, bagged a staggering 55 goals in a mere 25 appearances for Gorleston’s reserves last season and has already netted 11 in 13 for the Norfolk side’s first team in the Thurlow Nunn Premier League this term.
A member of Norwich City’s Player Development Centre at the age of 10, the Blues could now snap him up from under their bitter rivals’ noses.
Ingram’s goal record will certainly be music to Town fans’ ears given Mick McCarthy’s men have drawn a blank in their last four Championship matches heading into Saturday’s game at Blackburn.
“There are things Connor needs to work on, but there’s no doubting he’s a natural goalscorer,” said Gorleston manager Ricci Butler.
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“My view is you can’t teach that. And the better players he plays with, the more he will score.
The son of Gorleston’s leading all-time scorer and current Greens assistant boss Gary ‘Goose’ Ingram, Connor was invited him to Playford Road after a scout witnessed a hat-trick in a recent FA Youth Cup game against Framlingham.
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“He’s six foot plus, quite well built and left-footed,” said Butler. “He scores all sorts of goals – poacher’s finishes, tap-ins and a few extraordinary ones. His set-pieces are different class too.
“He celebrates every goal like it’s the match-winner in an FA Cup Final, no matter what the score is and what body part the ball goes in off.
“His aerial ability needs a bit of work, but he’s very skilful and his quick feet can get him out of tight areas. He’s powerful too and can push the ball past someone and out-muscle his way beyond them.
“I do believe that if Ipswich don’t take him up, then it won’t be long before someone else does.”
He continued: “Our reserves don’t play in the strongest of leagues, but he was still a 16-year-old boy playing against men.
“I was trying to limit how much we used him in the first team and ease him in, but it became impossible to leave him out.
“He’s probably not as fit as Ipswich would like, but we only train twice a week and he’s full-time at college.
“His head is screwed on and I don’t think he’d be interested in going to a Wroxham, Dereham or Norwich United. He’s got his sights set higher than that. He’s already rejected Lowestoft.
“What I really like is he’s not full of himself. He’s our best and most dangerous player, everyone knows that, but he’s remained really humble and his attitude has been spot on. I do believe that if Ipswich don’t take him up, then it won’t be long before someone else does.”
Town have two other 17-year-old players on trial from non-league clubs at present – tricky winger Max Booth and lightening-quick centre-back Tyler French from Ryman Premier League duo Needham Market and AFC Sudbury respectively.
Marketmen boss Mark Morsley said: “Max has done well (on trial), I understand, and there are other clubs looking at him.
“We’ve just given him a two-year contract, which we don’t dish out like confetti here.
“He’s a great kid, with a great attitude. There’s something about him.
“Max has got pace and loves to take people on and dribble with the ball, which is increasingly rare these days.
“He’s got that bit of confidence and swagger about him that I think you need to make it in the pro game.
“He maybe lacks a bit of strength, but he’s still got a bit of filling out to do. The weak side of his game is the defensive side of things, but he can work on that.”
Morsley added: “This is the fifth player that we have produced from our academy that has gone into Ipswich, while we’ve had two sign for Colchester, so we must be doing something right.
“Teams like Ipswich should be looking to local non-league – I’m amazed it’s taken this long. I think Ipswich have been missing a trick.
“I think some professional clubs can become obsessed with stats, how many passes their young players make in a game, things like that, and underestimate the benefits of young players being in a truly competitive environment. In non-league there is a pressure to win games because peoples’ jobs depend on it.
“Some of these youngsters coming through professional academies have never had a manager b********g them after a bad performance or been barracked by supporters. You need to experience that early or it becomes a real culture shock.”
AFC Sudbury boss Jamie Godbold, talking about centre-back French, said: “I think he’s got a lot of the tools needed to be a professional.
“I gave him his first-team debut at the back end of last season, he played against Ipswich in pre-season and didn’t look out of place, we rewarded him with a three-year contract and he’s started the season really well.
“He’s got the right mental attributes – a good football brain and temperament, while he’s keen to learn.
“Physically he’s good too. He’s 6ft one or two and his main strength is his pace, he’s extremely quick.”