YOU can keep your marquee signings, the thing which will remain priceless to fans is seeing their club bring through and develop exciting youngsters.
And just when the Academy Well seemed to be drying up at IP1, off the back of churning out household names a la Wright, Dyer, Scowcroft, Bramble, Ambrose and Bent, Connor Wickham’s emergence has been swiftly followed by a further bright, young thing.
Another secret of Playford Road, wrapped up in cotton wool somewhere out of the media’s gaze, is now out.
Josh Carson wasn’t even on the squad list on the back of the programme when he made his debut against Scunthorpe just under a month ago. But now he has half as many league goals this term as Roy Keane’s most expensive signing, Tamas Priskin. And he plays on the wing!
But what I like abut Carson is what proved to be the key to unlocking the Crystal Palace backdoor in Saturday’s 2-1 win - he gets white paint on his boots, making Dean Moxey look like he was mistaking him for a substitute warming up.
Almost a dying trade nowadays, but Carson demonstrated at the weekend, and then against Middlesbrough in the thrilling 3-3 draw on Tuesday, he can give us what we have been missing: width and speed. The same combination used to devastating effect by the likes of Clive Woods and, in the more recent past, Bobby Petta and Martijn Reuser (now a free agent).
With Alan Mahon I thought we had it back, but we let him slip through our fingers to pip us to promotion with Paul Jewell’s Wigan.
Alan Quinn never lived up to the mantle with injuries and will now be released in the summer, and Lee Martin, despite being revitalised under Jewell, still has to find consistency. Ambrose is the last wing wizard I can remember, though he has enjoyed much more success playing through the middle.
But with Carson could a new king of the touchline have been born at Portman Road? Just where he would fit in a 4-4-2 midfield I’m not quite sure yet, but a manager with options, and the ability to change system, is a happy manager.
While Carson is the man-of-the-moment as we build-up to a trip to Bristol City on Saturday before Derby Thursday, Luke Hyam seems to be the forgotten breakthrough kid. He wasn’t even on the bench against Middlesbrough and is yet to figure under Jewell. But after a smashing start to the campaign I’m sure we’re set to hear a lot more about him in the not too distant future, along with defender Joe Whight, the first-year scholar just handed an early professional contract.
Remember the names, when it comes to polishing up diamonds, the Ipswich Town Academy, now with Russell Osman in on the act, takes some beating.
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