Taylor praises a 'proper football club'

THE inclusion of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose in the England Under-21 squad that visits Portman Road on Tuesday night has no doubt added spice for the East Anglian public keen to see two Blues' old boys back in town.

By Derek Davis

THE inclusion of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose in the England Under-21 squad that visits Portman Road on Tuesday night has no doubt added spice for the East Anglian public keen to see two Blues' old boys back in town.

It also maintains a link between Ipswich Town and England that has continued to be developed by Under-21 boss Peter Taylor.

The Blues may have produced two England managers but it is Taylor that has given its players most recognition. The man who has had two spells at the helm of the Under-21s over the past 10 years has chosen seven of the 18 Ipswich Town players who have represented England Under-21s.

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Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer and James Scowcroft were among his first batch, while Titus Bramble, Bent, Ambrose and Matt Richards have since joined them.

David Johnson and Ian Westlake have also been called into Under-21 squads by Taylor but never actually played.

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The former international team-mate of Kevin Beattie is an unashamed fan of Ipswich Town, the way the club is run, the way it plays and, most of all, the type of players produced by the Academy.

Taylor said: “I didn't know how many players I had capped but I'm not surprised. But I don't make these players. It is the academy of Ipswich which produces the players to a high standard.

“I guess the latest couple must have been Matt Richards and Ian Westlake. Both are good young players and Richards is naturally left-footed which is always important. There are not many good left-footed players in the country so they were brought in to help give the squad balance.”

The Blues player that Taylor picks out as his favourite is one that went on to win full national honours but he retains a soft spot for a couple of others.

He said: “Kieron Dyer is a very special talent and was in the side when he was way under age but showed how good he was.

“Obviously I'm a James Scowcroft fan and I have just bought him at Palace and I have always been a Richard Wright admirer.”

While Bent may be a little disappointed to miss out on another full call-up, he will be assured of a tremendous reception from the Blues backing, along with Ambrose and the rest of the England side, at a ground where England have won all three qualifying matches in the past, plus a full international and an Under-19s battle against Germany - when Bent scored twice.

The only loss was a friendly against the Czech Republic in 1998.

Taylor said: “Having the two Darrens returning to Portman Road makes the fixture even more special for those two and the fans.

“I'm sure they will be up for it and we get will get super support. Ipswich is a proper football club - a proper place to go and play.

“It would be nice if we can keep the record of winning and keeping clean sheets in qualifying games there.

“With only Moldova and Switzerland in the group with us, it is vital we get the campaign of to a winning start.”

As manager of table-topping Crystal Palace, Taylor was able to get a close look at the current Blues players, and the style of football and once again he was impressed.

Taylor said: “Ipswich have a fantastic name and not just the whole football club but the way they play.

“On Saturday, they had a different manager but once again it was the same very good style of football that Ipswich played.

“I'm sure the Ipswich supporters would not want it any other way and that is brilliant. They show such incredible support for their manager, team and the style of football.”

Although Howard Wilkinson, and then David Platt, had a brief spells as Under-21s boss, when FA politics rode roughshod over commonsense, Taylor has been far t more successful over the past 10 years and has seen a number of top stars come through.

He made David Beckham England captain when he was caretaker-manager of the senior side and was delighted with the way the Real Madrid star did the job.

Taylor totally backed Steve McClaren's decision to hand the armband to John Terry, with Steven Gerrard as the vice-captain - two players capped by Taylor at Under-21 level.

He said: “It is a great choice, as John Terry is a tremendous captain as he has shown in the past and now for Chelsea. I'm sure he will be very proud and will do a tremendous job. Gerrard is also a tremendous captain and Steve is very lucky to have two outstanding people to do those jobs.”

Taylor played in the England side with Beattie and, having played in Essex for Southend, has always enjoyed warm links with Ipswich Town and admits he would have relished being its manager.

He said: “Ipswich is a terrific club and I have a house near Chelmsford, so being its manager always appealed to me but it has never happened. Maybe one day - you never know.”

With McClaren making it clear he wants a full-time man in charge of the Under 21s, it is possible that this will be the last time Taylor takes charge of the side, although he has been asked to stay on part-time to help the new man - whoever that may be.

Sammy Lee turned down the position so he could carry on coaching at Bolton and there does not appear to be a natural successor to Taylor.

Town players of the future, watch with interest.

JOHN TERRY may be the new England captain but you have the chance to lead out the national side in this amazing competition.

The EADT has teamed up with the FA to give TWO youngsters the chance to be mascots at Tuesday's England Under-21 match, against Moldova at Portman Road next Tuesday.

The first name drawn out of the hat will walk out with the England captain wearing a full home replica kit.

The runner-up will lead out the Moldovan side wearing the England away kit. The youngsters also win a family ticket each so their parents and brothers or sisters can watch in style as guests of the FA.

To enter simply answer this question:

For which club do ex-Ipswich stars Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose now play?

Send your answer to: derek.davis@eadt.co.uk, or post your entry to Derek Davis. EADT sportsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich. IP4 1AN.

The competition closes midday Monday, August 14.

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