Richards back for Blues
MATT Richards is determined to remind Blues boss Joe Royle just what a talent he is when he makes his first appearance in the senior side at Colchester United today.
MATT Richards is determined to remind Blues boss Joe Royle just what a talent he is when he makes his first appearance in the senior side at Colchester United today, writes Derek Davis.
The highly rated youngster is ignoring the interest from Southampton, and a couple of other Premiership clubs, and is more interested in making up for lost time to make the Ipswich team on August 9, at home to Reading.
After pulling a hamstring in the first week of pre-season training in his eagerness to show well on a cross-country run, Richards knows he faces stiff competition to win back his starting place.
Chris Makin looked a natural at left-back in his absence and competition in defence is fierce.
But Richards can also move up into the left side of midfield, another area where there are plenty of people vying for a place, so he knows getting plenty of game time is important.
The 18-year-old was reunited with his first-team mates in training yesterday after they returned from a three-game pre-season trip to Sweden.
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Richards enjoyed 45 minutes in a reserve team friendly win over Hadleigh United on Thursday evening and is desperate to get back in the senior starting side reckoning.
Richards said: “My hamstring is fine now. I felt my fitness was good and it was a good run-out and my preparation is going well.
“Hopefully I will now get a part of a game at Colchester which I need because I have not played with the first team in pre-season at all yet.
“This will help me get back in the swing with them and to get ready for the start of the season.”
While today's game at Layer Road and Wednesday's trip to Boston United are important steps towards readiness for the league opener against Reading, the squad know being in Friday's side against Levski Sofia will be the true indication of manager Joe Royle's favoured starting XI.
Richards forced his way into the team last year when he made his debut as a 17-year-old in the UEFA Cup last August. He also remembers how the Blues' poor start to the season cost them so dear and believes getting off to a flyer will be vital if they are to push for promotion.
He said: “It is going to be very hard this season with West Ham and Sunderland coming down and they will still be good teams and it will be tight in the division.
“We need to make sure we get a good start and a few wins under our belt. August is a vital month and we need to make sure we win the first few of games to set us up for the season.”
Richards is another product of the highly successful youth academy at Portman Road which showed off a whole new crop of talent at Hadleigh on Thursday.