One of the key club visions the board are keen for me to do is buy under 23s for the first team squad. Sounds a reasonable request right? However, with a budget of close to fuck all, it makes it hard to bring players in of that age that are ready for first team football when we are trying to cement ourselves as a Championship side.
Youth intakes as well, have not beared much fruit in the opening two years, however I was placed in the fortunate position of Ipswich having some talented 16-18 year olds when I started the save, a few of which have progressed nicely.
In my last youth based blog, I discussed my plan on having 3-5 youth prospects train with the first team until the age of 19. At that age, they then have 2 or 3 seasons out on loan to prove their true level. Unless of course before that age they seem able to cope at first team level.
One player who has been able to do this is Liam Gibbs. Liam started last season as a youth prospect training with the first team, but played well when given any game time and trained fantastically to improve enough to now see him as the 6th midfielder in the squad. I play 3 centre midfielders, so whilst he is regularly outside the matchday squad, he provides good depth. A talented playmaker who can also play further forward.
Cameron Stewart also trained with the first team last year, and continues to do so this year. Game time has been limited due to him being our fourth choice centre back, but a loan spell next season should see his development continue.
One player who has come through into first team action this year is Nyan Mesuria. Capped for India at 17 in game, he is again one who has improved alot during my spell at Ipswich, adding to a base of a decent technical attributes. He scored on debut on the final day of last season, and has probably muscled in to be 4th choice wide man over Alan Judge who is facing the enemy of father time! Mesuria probably just lacks enough physical attributes to truly make it for me, but again a loan spell next season could be the judge of that.
One player I have been able to bring in who has been an addition to the first team is Craig McPake. Signed from Solihull Moors last January for £100k, he was loaned straight back to Solihull for the remainder of that season. He has now taken a firm place in the squad as a backup striker and seems to be on the path to be a member of our squad for years to come. Finally one to make the board happy!
Next season he will likely be joined by Ben Folami, who I have sent out on loan every season since the start, and is slowly climbing up the levels with consistent success. With Shane Long and James Norwood likely to leave at the end of this season, Folami and fellow loanee Jack Lankester are looking good to both be in the squad next year as backup strikers.