Westlake wants to stay for life

AN ecstatic Ian Westlake is enjoying life at Ipswich so much that he wants to commit to the club for life, writes Derek Davis.The free-scoring midfielder is so happy at the second-placed Blues there is nothing he would like more for his 21st birthday than a contract extension.

AN ecstatic Ian Westlake is enjoying life at Ipswich so much that he wants to commit to the club for life, writes Derek Davis.

The free-scoring midfielder is so happy at the second-placed Blues there is nothing he would like more for his 21st birthday than a contract extension.

While a 15-year deal is unlikely, Westlake is hoping he will be spending the next few years at Portman Road.

Westlake who reaches 21 next Thursday, and shares his birthday, if not age, with Shefki Kuqi, said: "For my birthday I would love to sort out my future here at Ipswich. I totally love it here and I have no reason to ever want to leave.

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"My family are close, my girlfriend is here and it is going great for me.

"It is a brilliant club that is doing well and looking to go into the Premiership and that can happen, especially with the way we are playing at the moment.

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"So I would like to be able to settle things so I can sort things out like a house."

Westlake's current deal still has 18 months to run but he has asked his agent to try to agree a new deal.

He added: "You don't normally get left with just a year of your contract so I'm sure it will be sorted out. I'm an Ipswich Town player and I don't want there to be any talk about me leaving or any of that rubbish.

"I want to play Premiership football with Ipswich. It is always a club that brings through young players and we have those now.

"We also have the older players who have been in the Premiership like Jim Magilton, Fabian Wilnis, Richard Naylor and Kevin Horlock. Then we have Jason De Vos, an international.

"They all teach us so much. It is brilliant being this young and having them teach us. It is absolute quality with people like Jim, who loves telling us things, and it makes it so much easier when you have people like that who prepare you.

"Bam Bam (Naylor) is another, even though he is so young he has a phenomenal amount of experience and with his pace and strength he is a hard man to play against."

Another of the reasons why Westlake is so happy, and no doubt why the team is doing so well, is the outstanding team spirit which is so evident when the Blues score and all 10 outfield players celebrate together.

It is the same off the pitch.

Westlake said: "There is so much banter here is it incredible.

"Kevin Horlock, for example, has come in and he is so funny. He is deadpan, like Jack Dee, but is such a crazy guy.

"For example when we have an ice bath the rest of us are easing our way in gently but he just runs up and dives in head first. He is mad.

"Jim is another who is hilarious. He is a brilliant captain who won't let anyone not put the team first.

"Jason is another who is obviously a leader and helps us out. He was great to me when I was having a low point earlier in the season.

"I have heard about clubs where the young players don't really mix with the older players but that doesn't happen here – everyone gets on together.

"It reflects on the pitch. If things are not going well and say someone misses a tackle, the others would just say that's your man; but here if that happens we would be determined to get back and make the tackle for you."

Westklake established himslef in the Town first team last October and has never looked back, although he suffered a slight dip in form earlier in this campaign.

It has been quite a year for the Clacton lad, who was voted Supporters' Player of the Year, was called into the England Under-21 squad and has beaten an Olympic swimmer.

He said: "It has been brilliant. Although there have been a couple of downs I could not have asked for a better year, really. Footballing-wise it was superb.

"Last season went really well although there were a couple of things I wasn't happy with in my game.

"This season started slowly but now I really feel I'm playing my best football ever. I did well last season but this past month has easily been my best."

Asking to be excused international duty last month brought about a resurgence in his form and he has scored three goals in four games.

Westlake admitted: "I'm so glad I took that break. I have come back so strong and so sharp. It was about confidence as well and Joe (Royle) and Willie (Donachie) have been brilliant. Willie kept telling me that I could do it and Joe kept playing me. Now my confidence is high. Everything is going my way at the moment.

"I'm sure I will have another dip as that is the way things happen but for now I'm just loving it.

"Even when I was not playing so well I had scored three goals. Now I have six and have weighed in with some assists so it is going really well."

Although the swim against Karen Pickering was good fun he is now focusing fully on football.

He said: "That was an added bonus. I just expected to give her a hard race and thought I may lose on the touch but I ended up winning.

"They were saying I had no chance but they didn't realise I used to swim nine hours a week so I'm not a bad swimmer. In the end it came down to power over a shorter distance.

"I was delighted that she scored two out of three penalties and I have to admit the one that went in off a post was a brilliant penalty.

"I'm glad it all finished honours even."

Academy graduate Westlake made his 50th start for Town against Preston last Saturday.

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