‘We’ve got good players coming through’ – Town bidding to make FA Youth Cup quarters

Jack Lankester scored both goals for Ipswich Town in their FA Youth Cup fourth round win against Dag

Jack Lankester scored both goals for Ipswich Town in their FA Youth Cup fourth round win against Dagenham & Redbridge. Photo: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy believes there are some good young players coming through the club’s academy – and he says they should be given time to develop.

The Under-18s face Blackpool in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road this evening (7pm ko), with a quarter-final tie against Blackburn or Nottingham Forest awaiting the winners followed by a potential semi-final against Colchester, Reading, Middlesbrough or Arsenal.

Managed by former Blues striker Alan Lee, the young Blues caused a major upset by winning 2-1 at Everton in the third round and followed it up with a fourth round 2-1 home win against Dagenham & Redbridge.

Above them the likes of Myles Kenlock, Andre Dozzell, Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes have all broken into the first team picture, while Gerard Nash’s Under-23s are enjoying a much-improved season.

Further down the age groups in Lee O’Neill and Bryan Klug’s well-funded Category Two set-up there is excitement about the crop of players set to make the step up as full-time scholars in the coming years.

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“I think youth teams in general are cyclical,” said McCarthy. “I remember at Manchester City, when I was there, winning the Youth Cup and that team almost all ended up in the first team.

“I’m not saying we’re going to win the Youth Cup but you do get spells where you have good players and we have some good players coming through.”

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Town have won the FA Youth Cup on three occasions, in 1973, 1975 and most recently in 2005. Club legends like Kevin Beattie, Mick Mills, John Wark and George Burley all made their first-team debuts as teenagers, while the likes of Kieron Dyer, Richard Wright, Titus Bramble and James Scowcroft rolled off the academy production line in the 1990s.

Homegrown success stories have been few and far between in more recent times though, while the likes of Jordan Rhodes, Conor Hourihane and now Jack Marriott are all players that have gone on to make waves since being let go.

“That’s something that we should be doing – keeping the players a bit longer – provided we can loan them out,” said McCarthy. “If they can’t play here, that’s tough. But if they can go out and play, be on loan, I think it gives them a bit longer here to see whether they’re progressing enough to get in the first team.”

Defenders Luke Woolfenden and Chris Smith – both 19 – are currently on loan at non-league clubs Bromley and Chelnsford respectively, while defender George Fowler and midfielder Adam McDonnell – both 20 – have just been allowed to join Aldershot permanently after loan spells.

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