A veteran youngster, internationals, a loan ranger and the next wave - the players at the core of Town’s future
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert wants to rebuild around a group of talented youngsters. Andy Warren looks at a potential core of the future.
The veteran youngster
Teddy Bishop will be 23 years old by the time next season starts but, in terms of time on the pitch (14 league starts in four years), he’s certainly still a youngster.
Injury has blighted the midfielder’s progress since he burst onto the scene in 2014 but, five years and three lost seasons later, he’s training regularly and is back on the pitch.
He brings a different dimension to the Ipswich midfield with drive, tenacity and a burning desire to make up for lost time.
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Bishop has proved his fitness enough to earn a new contract until 2021 and, if he can remain healthy, figures to be a centre-piece of the Ipswich side.
The young internationals
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This wave of youngsters, who have all been recognised at England youth level, is proof that the Ipswich Town academy system is firing again after a few lean years.
Flynn Downes (20), Andre Dozzell (19), Jack Lankester (19), Tristan Nydam (19) and Ben Morris (19) have all played with each other since they were of primary school age and have pushed through into the Ipswich first-team together too.
Downes has played the most football of the five and has made great strides under Paul Lambert, while the Blues boss says Dozzell’s ‘time is coming’ as they work out how best to deploy the talented youngster.
Lankester’s progress has been rapid since he made the journey from a loan spell at non-league Bury Town to the Ipswich first-team in just six months. Proof of his progress is just how big a loss the teenager is to the first-team given his current back injury.
Both Nydam and Morris have endured tough loan spells this season as they struggled for minutes at St Johnstone and Forest Green respectively, but will still have learnt a lot about the men’s game.
Sadly for Morris, he’s out until Christmas at least with a knee injury but showed enough spark in his opening-day cameo against Blackburn to whet the appetite for more.
Josh Emmanuel, 21, has not been seen in an Ipswich Town side in a little under two years but, in that time, has played a lot of League One football.
He was part of the Rotherham side which won promotion via the play-offs last season, beating Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury and winning the Millers’ young-player-of-the-year award, before joining the Shropshire side for a slightly less successful loan this time around.
He’s back with Ipswich now and made the bench for the defeat by Sheffield Wednesday recently.
Myles Kenlock, 22, has now made 38 Championship starts but these have come over a period of nearly three years, with the youngster unable to claim the starting left-back role on a permanent basis.
He looked calm and composed in Wednesday’s draw with Derby but, like Emmanuel, needs games on a regular basis if he is to continue his progress.
Both youngsters are out of contract this summer, with the Blues having the option to extend those deals by a further 12 months.
Learning their trade
Don’t forget about central defender Luke Woolfenden.
The 20-year-old has impressed on loan at Swindon Town in League Two this season having looked the part during pre-season under former Blues boss Paul Hurst.
He’s a calm, cultured defender who can play out from the back, fitting Lambert’s style, but his loan stay in Wiltshire will have helped him toughen up and learn the dark art of defending.
Both his Swindon managers this season, firstly Phil Brown and then Richie Wellens, have tipped him for big things.
Last season saw him spend time on loan in the National League with Bromley before spending this year in League Two. League One is the next natural step for him, which could mean a role in the Ipswich first-team if the Blues’ ominous battle with relegation is ultimately unsuccessful.
He’s out of contract in the summer but the Blues look certain to at least pick up the one-year extension option in his contract.
Goalkeeper Harry Wright, son of Richard, has yet to make his senior debut but has been working with first-team goalkeepers Bartosz Bialkowski and Dean Gerken all season.
He now warms up with the senior keepers before games and is a strong influence in the Under 23 side. His kicking and distribution in particular are a huge plus for that side.
The next wave
As well as those players who have already made their first-team debuts, there’s a wave of players recently signed to professional deals working towards taking the next step.
Midfielder Idris El Mizouni (18), left-back Bailey Clements (18), Brett McGavin (19) and Kai Brown (17) have all signed professional contracts this season, while it’s understood Irish central defender Corrie Ndaba has also been offered professional terms.
All have become important parts of the Blues’ Under 23 side, who currently top their league.
Ndaba, 19, is a strong, quick and vocal central defender who has all the tools to succeed as a professional, while El Mizouni is a silky midfield playmaker who has elements of both Bishop and Dozzell in his game.
Clements is a calm and composed left-back while McGavin plays a similar role in central midfield. For striker Brown to be playing Under 23 football at just 17 years old his hugely impressive.
All are big talents with plenty more to learn and figure to be a little way from the first-team just yet but, as we’ve seen from Lankester’s rapid rise, it’s possible to make that jump.