Young stars happy at Portman Road

THE future of Ipswich Town lies balancing between keeping its young talent and adding the right players along the way.While it is no secret that clubs will always be attracted to the Academy stars who come through the Portman Road ranks, the Blues have made it clear they are not interested in selling their young talent and have no need to do so for financial reasons.

By Derek Davis

THE future of Ipswich Town lies balancing between keeping its young talent and adding the right players along the way.

While it is no secret that clubs will always be attracted to the Academy stars who come through the Portman Road ranks, the Blues have made it clear they are not interested in selling their young talent and have no need to do so for financial reasons.

Everton are the latest in a long line of Premiership outfits reportedly keen on picking up Town's young talent, but like Owen Garvan, Danny Haynes, and Shane Supple in recent months, Billy Clarke is not for sale and the 18-year-old is happy to see the club put up a hands-off warning.


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That assertion has helped Clarke, like other promising players before him, to commit to the club in a three-year deal and he has made it clear he has no intention of leaving.

Clarke vowed: “I can tell the supporters I'm not going anywhere, nor are the other young lads that are here.

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“It is flattering to have clubs like that interested but I have heard nothing and all I can do is keep playing my football and doing well for Ipswich.

“We have got a brilliant bunch of players that have come through the Academy. We have gelled as we have come through and it is understandable that the club would want to keep their best young players.

“It is brilliant that the likes of Shane, Danny and Owen have caught the eye but the club has made it clear we are not going anywhere.

“I'm happy with that. I signed a three-year contract at the end of the season and I intend sticking to it. I'm happy with that and all I want is to keep playing and to get goals.”

With four goals to his name already this season, all after coming off the bench, Blues boss Jim Magilton is aware that the Cork striker is straining at the leash but Clarke knows he has to try and be patient.

Clarke said: “I would love to start. I can do both but it is whatever the gaffer wants me to do. I started at QPR and thought I did quite well there and was unfortunate not to score.

“If the gaffer wants me from the off I will be happy but if he sees me as an impact player coming off the bench then that's fine by me too.”

With Jon Macken out with a hamstring injury, Clarke is favourite to start alongside Alan Lee on Sunday against Luton, with Danny Haynes also in contention.

The game will be the third time this season that Town have been shown live on Sky television, with a win and a loss so far both away from home.

The anticipation of being screened live excites Clarke but he has already learned how to handle the emotions and concentrate on the job in hand.

He said: “It is good knowing during the build-up that you are going to be on the telly but once the game starts you don't really think about the cameras or people watching. Hopefully if I play then I will do well and people will see that.”

Already well known at international level for the Republic of Ireland after playing at every age level for his country, Clarke was handed a boost last month when he was called into the Under-21 squad. But he had to accept being excused at Magilton's request as Town had games against West Brom and then Preston.

He said: “It was good getting the call-up and everyone wants to play for their country but I'm just trying to build my career with Ipswich and international football is a bonus.”

Clarke's assertion that he, and the other young Town stars are not leaving, will delight the Blues faithful and dozens of fans queued at the Planet Blue stores to meet their heroes yesterday at an autograph signing session.

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