The cheeky chappy, a young Frenchman and the son of an icon - five youngsters pushing for Ipswich debuts
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town have a rich history of giving young players a chance. ANDY WARREN looks at five teenagers showing promise at Portman Road.
The young forward will surely be the next homegrown youngster to make his Ipswich Town debut.
The 18-year-old from Bury St Edmunds signed his first professional contract in August, having been with the Blues since the age of seven, and was on the first team bench for the first time at Swansea.
He’s impressed for the Blues’ Under 23s so far this season, scoring twice and showing confidence on the ball while occupying both central and wide positions, as well as displaying a willingness to run at his man and drive towards goal.
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Paul Hurst has already described Lankester as a ‘cheeky chappy’ after handing him a professional deal.
“He’s certainly been bright since I joined and every time I’ve watched him he’s done something,” the Ipswich Town boss said.
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“It’s not always been throughout the course of the game but he’s always had moments.
“He’s scored a couple of goals, we’ve given him a professional contract and he’s got something about him that is very likeable as well as some quality on the pitch.”
Injuries to Ellis Harrison and Jon Walters have opened the door for Lankester but it remains to be seen if and when he gets his chance.
The 17-year-old left back was another to sign a first professional deal in August, keeping him at his local club until the summer of 2020.
Clements was a regular in Gerard Nash’s Under 23 side last season and has continued to be this time around, while he also made the squad on the final day of last season without making the bench against Middlesbrough.
He’s a solid defender who also likes to push into the final third, but there is work to do physically before he is truly ready for the first team.
Clements, who has captained the Under 18s this season, travelled with the senior Blues to Swansea last time out, having caught Hurst’s eye early in his Town reign.
“As a left-back I’ll probably be harsh in terms of critiquing his performances, the way he is, but he really impressed in the U23s game at Lowestoft (in July) just by coming on and passing a ball simply,” Hurst said.
“That sounds the simplest thing in the world, but for me he’s a young lad who gets the game, he understands it.
“We’ve got some work to do with him physically certainly, but he’s only a second year youth team player, so he’s been rewarded early.”
Opportunities will certainly be limited for Clements in the short term, given Jonas Knudsen and Myles Kenlock are ahead of him in the pecking order and Janoi Donacien has been used as a stand-in left back, but his future looks to be a bright one.
It just feels right to have a Wright between the sticks for Ipswich Town.
Richard made 298 appearances for the Blues before joining Arsenal in 2001, with another 64 coming in two further spells later in his career, and now son Harry is working his way through the Ipswich Town youth ranks.
The 19-year-old has made nine appearances for the Blues’ Under 23s this season and featured for the first-team in pre-season at Braintree, where he made a string of good saves while also dealing with crosses well, having travelled to the senior training camp in Spain during the summer.
He impressed to the extent that Hurst was happy to enter the season with Wright as his third-choice goalkeeper, rather than dipping into the transfer market.
“In fairness to Harry he’s probably one who has stepped up a little bit. I couldn’t judge before but since I’ve come in he’s done well,” Hurst said.
“If we have to use him then it wouldn’t concern me too much.”
Idris El Mizouni
The French-born creative midfielder has pushed his way into the Blues’ Under 23 side this season, having impressed for the Under 18s during 2017/18.
He’s confident on the ball, can pick a pass and likes to drive into the box from midfield to support the central striker. He’s been used both in the No.10 role behind a striker and slightly deeper, dovetailing nicely with Andre Dozzell when they have been paired together.
The duo combined to create Ben Folami’s second goal in a 4-1 victory over Coventry recently, playing a neat one-two before Dozzell supplied the pass for the Australian to finish.
He’s been away with a Tunisian Under 23 squad this week, qualifying through his father, and played 79 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Italy.
El Mizouni, who joined the Blues after impressing on trial in 2016 having been spotted playing at a youth tournament in his homeland, is another who has work to do physically before he is ready for the Championship, but the talent is there.
The right back has been with the Blues since he was 12 and is carving out an excellent reputation as he takes his first steps in the game.
Crowe, who can also play in midfield, is an England U18 international and played a significant part as England Under 17s made the last four of their European Championships in the summer.
He’s comfortable on the ball and wants to get forward, with the Blues keen to tie the hot prospect down to a professional deal.
Summer reports linked Crowe with Manchester United, Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig, but the 17-year-old has knuckled down and is still a regular in the Ipswich youth sides.
The production line at Playford Road is full of young, talented players looking to make the grade.
Chris Smith captains the Under 23s from the centre of defence alongside Corrie Ndaba while the likes of Kai Brown, signed from Grays recently, and Armando Dobra have impressed in the Under 18s.