Needham’s teenage talent Ace Howell has earned himself a deal until the end of the season with SkyBet Championship club Ipswich Town’s academy.
It followed the 17-year-old seeing a trial at Playford Road cut short towards the end of last year over with Needham boss Mark Morsley then revealing to the Free Press he had to remove him from the first-team picture at the non-League club on his return and speak to his parents about ‘commitment issues’.
But tricky winger Howell, who leaves behind his brother Lamel, has been praised by the Marketmen’s academy head coach and former Ipswich player Kevin Horlock, after bouncing back to win a deal with the Tractor Boys’ academy until the end of the 2014/15 season.
“We are thrilled that another of our young Scholars has been presented with an opportunity to return to the full time game, particularly at a club of such stature,” he said.
“Ace is a talented young player with great potential and in his time at Needham Market we have sought to harness that natural ability, not only within the academy set up but also within Mark Morsley’s first-team squad, where he has gained experience from playing alongside and sitting in the same dressing room as players of great quality and significant experience in the professional game.”
Howell has been playing in a midfield alongside former Ipswich midfielder Ian Westlake and Colchester United captain Kemal Izzet at the Ryman League Division One North side, but will now get his chance to follow in their footsteps in the professional game.
Horlock added there was no reason why other players at their Bloomfields-based academy cannot also aspire to win deals at League clubs.
“The opportunity that Ace has got emphasises that young players who have the ability, desire and application to play at the highest level can achieve their goal,” he said.
“We as a club take great pride in the hard work that is put in on a daily basis within the academy by staff and players alike, and this is further recognition of the quality of our academy product and the emphasis that we as a football club place on the development of our own talent.”
Academy director Andy Gould added: “All at Needham Market FC wish Ace the very best of luck in the months ahead.
“Ace, who joined the Needham Market Academy set up in July 2013 and has developed under the guidance of head coach Kevin Horlock and his staff, has deservedly earned the opportunity that his undoubted talent has yielded.
“He becomes the second player from the club’s development programme to make the short journey but giant leap into the full-time game.
“It is hoped that in the months ahead the player will demonstrate that he has all the attributes to carve out a long term career in the professional game.”