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Academy Players

Get to know the young professionals and Academy scholars at Portman Road


Name: Adam McDonnell
Age: 19
Position: Midfielder        
Hometown: Dublin
Previous clubs: Shelbourne
Joined Academy: 2014
Player you admire: Paul Scholes               
Standout moment: Derby away
Tell us something about yourself: I support Manchester United

Adam McDonnell admits he considered a loan spell away from Town in order to gain more first-team football but now the squads are settled until January, he is looking to kick-on.
The Irish midfielder made his Championship debut in the final game of last season against Derby and has since penned a contract extension but having had a taste of first-team football, he wants more. 
“I thought about the possibility of going on loan and we talked about it but obviously you can't go out outside the window so we may revisit that in January. It could be an option,” Adam told the matchday programme. 
“The squad is a bit bigger than I thought it was going to be this season but I'm still going to try and push into the first-team. I'm not going to let my head drop and start sulking so hopefully I can kick on and get a little bit more game time.
“I had a one-year option on my last deal but to get another year on top was a real confidence boost. It shows that the gaffer has trust in me and I was delighted to sign for the two years.  
“Even now if somebody asked me 'what's the best day of your life?' it would definitely be the Derby game where I made my Championship debut. 
“I was obviously nervous the day before but once I was out on the pitch I just took it all in. There were over 30,000 people there and I absolutely loved it. Winning 1-0 helped a little bit more as well. I came off towards the end because I had a bit of cramp but overall it was a great day.”
For now, Adam may have to play much of his football for the first half of the season anyway in the newly formed U23 side, but a handful of additional fixtures in the Premier League Cup make that a much more exciting prospect.
“Our season in the 23s hasn't started the best, although in the first few games we played some good football,” he said. “The game is about winning though so it was good to get our first win of the season against Millwall. 
“We have the Premier League Cup coming up as well which is another six games at least so you have to build momentum going into these games because they come thick and fast. Hopefully we can get a couple of good results in a row and kick on from there.
“I'm looking forward to the cup games, especially playing Liverpool and West Brom. It's good to play them home and away too because you want to play the big teams in the big stadiums so it's exciting to get the chance to do that.
“I've seen on Twitter that a couple of people were already looking to see how they could get tickets to the Liverpool game at Portman Road so it would be good to get a big crowd and we can progress and get some more big games.
“Last year I didn't mind playing in the 23s [then U21] but then when you get a taste of being with the first-team and you drop back down you just want to get back into playing competitive games. 
“Obviously the 23s is competitive but proper first-team League games are definitely what you want to be doing at 19. I'm hoping I can catch the eye and get some more first-team action this season. That’s the target.”


Name:Ben Morris                                                                                          
Colne Engaine         
Previous clubs:
Joined Academy:
Player you admire:
Lionel Messi                                                                             
Standout moment:
Scoring for England U17

Ben Morris has his sights set on being involved with the first-team come the end of the season after having a taste of what it's like on Town's trip to Shelbourne in July.
The 17-year old striker played just over half an hour at Tolka Park and played a part in the Blues' second goal, setting Freddie Sears who found the net from close range.
“This year I'd like to play regularly with the U21s and maybe travel with the first-team towards the end of the season if I get a chance,” Ben told the matchday programme.
“To play in Ireland was really good. It was tough but a great experience. It helped to play with the more experienced players in the squad because they tried to give me advice and things to do.
“We worked on things like positioning and working together as a pair so my game has improved from being with them.
“I've just got to keep going and trying to impress the gaffer to get back in there.
“Last year for the U18s was really good getting the amount of goals that I did so now I've just got to push on and try to do it again with the 21s.”
It's been a busy summer for the youngster having been involved in England U17 duty at the end of last season.
Ben, along with Andre Dozzell, made his mark as England progressed through the group stages before being knocked out in the last eight by eventual runners-up, Spain.

"We were in the European Championship out in Azerbaijan and started slowly, but we managed to get through the group and we were unlucky in the end to lose to Spain in the quarter finals," explained the teenager.
“I managed to get my first international goal against France in the group stages and we went on to win 2-0.
“It was such a proud moment to score for my country and something that can't be taken away from me. Andre set up my goal too so it was good to link up with him for England.
“It helped to have Andre [Dozzell] and Nick [Hayes] out in Azerbaijan as well, because it meant we went over there knowing someone, but we're good friends with all of the other boys in the squad now as well so it was a really good experience to be involved in.
“There aren't many of the boys at U17 level that have had the chance to play first-team football, but you can see with Andre there is a chance to impress and get the opportunity to break through here.
“Hopefully now I can be involved with England again this season and push on from there.”



Name: Tristan Nydam

Age: 16

Position: Centre midfield        

Hometown: Colchester

Previous clubs: None

Joined Academy: U9s

Player you admire: Steven Gerrard        

Standout moment: Playing for the first-team at Cambridge

Tristan Nydam accepts that with all the money involved with football nowadays it makes it tougher for young players to break into the first-team fold but he is determined to make his mark.

The 16-year old midfielder played for Town's first-team in pre-season at Cambridge, and the experience has only whetted his appetite for further senior action.

“I was happy with getting the chance to be part of the first-team squad and play at Cambridge but I know I can't just live off that,” Tristan told the matchday programme.

“The manager said I did well considering I'm only 16 and it was the first time I was involved with the first-team.

“But I look at Andre [Dozzell] and what he did last year, scoring on his debut which must have been decent, and I want to be in his position this time next year.

“I'd like to think I'm on course to do so but it can obviously depend on injuries and other things, but there's a big squad here now which will make it a bit more difficult so I need to do as much as I can. 

“It makes you want to work harder as a young player, because there's a lot of money in the game now and teams are buying big players which makes it a more difficult for young English players to get a chance.

“I have to keep working hard to break into the 23s which will hopefully lead me to being involved with the first-team again.”

Tristan has spent the majority of this season so far playing with Alan Lee's U18 side who, after a flying start, are looking to get back to winning ways after drawing one and losing two of their last three matches.

“We had a good start to the season, we played well and got some good results,” he added. 

“In the last three games we haven't quite got the results we wanted but we'll keep going and try to put that right. 

“I scored three goals in three games at the start of the season and scoring goals wasn't part of my game last season. It’s something I've introduced this year and it was one of my targets to hit over 10 goals.

“I've been a little bit frustrated so far not to be involved with the 23s a bit more but I know why, and I know what I can do to sort that so hopefully I'll get a chance to play with them soon. I just need to keep proving myself with the 18s and I'd hope I can catch the eye to get an opportunity.

“I'm hoping that I can play for England this year as well after being on standby last season, but if it doesn't come this year I'll keep going and hopefully I can get a chance at some point.”



Name: Michael Crowe

Age: 20

Position: Goalkeeper  

Hometown: Kristiansand (Norway)

Previous clubs: Randesund IL, IK Start, Stevenage (loan), Braintree (loan), Woking (loan)

Joined Academy: 2012                    

Player you admire: Gianluigi Buffon and Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Standout moment: Qualify for the Euros with Wales U19s

Tell us something about yourself: I started playing in goal at 14

Wales' Euro 2016 exploits this summer certainly encapsulated a nation and Town stopper Michael Crowe believes the effect of Gareth Bale and company’s achievements has filtered down to the country’s younger international levels.

Chris Coleman's side reached the semi-finals in France and Michael, who is regularly selected for Wales’ U21 squad, has noticed a new buzz about the camp. 

“I think Wales’ Euro 2016 performances have rubbed off a little bit,” he told the matchday programme.

“There was definitely a little buzz about the place when the squad last met, especially after getting further than England and going so far in the tournament.

“We train in different places to the first-team and have different routines so I've never had any interaction with them, but it's still helped.

“Wales have been really good to me. They've put a lot of trust in me from when I was in the 19's and I really enjoy my trips away with them. The set-up is really good and there's a great squad there too.”

During pre-season, Michael looked to go out on loan for the season and a move to Fratton Park appeared to be on the cards following an extended trial, but despite the move falling through, the 'keeper still has his eyes on another spell elsewhere to earn some experience.

“I went down to Portsmouth for four weeks in pre-season and played a few games for them but unfortunately they wanted a goalkeeper with more experience, so it didn't work out,” he explained.

“I enjoyed my time down there though, there are some good people and I wish them all the best for this season. I definitely took a lot out of it and got some good references but unfortunately it was the right place at the wrong time.

“I've played about 20 games in the Conference now with Braintree and Woking so I think it's time I need to step up and play some League football so I just need the right club to take me on.

“It feels a little bit like it's more difficult to break through as a goalkeeper and it can be frustrating at times, but goalies tend to break through a bit later. I just need to wait for my opportunity and hopefully someone will take a chance on me soon.”

Currently Town's third choice, Michael was on the bench twice for the first-team in the Championship last term, and it was an experience that he believes has helped him to improve.

“It was a massive boost to be on the bench for the first-team. To see how they do it, you learn so much and gain so much confidence just being involved,” said the ‘keeper who is Norway born but qualifies to play for Wales through his family.

“I just need to keep improving and try to impress Bart [Bialkowski] and Gerks [Dean Gerken]. Obviously both of them are very solid and it will be tough but I'll try my best to push them. Hopefully I can get out on loan in January but that's up to the manager and Mally [goalkeeper coach Malcolm Webster] so we'll see how it goes.”


Jacob Marsden shot

Name: Jacob Marsden

Age: 19

Position: Goalkeeper      

Hometown: Great Yarmouth

Previous clubs: None

Joined Academy: U9s

Player you admire: David De Gea               

Standout moment: Every day!  

Jacob Marsden was born in Great Yarmouth and went to school in Norwich. Most of his family have their roots in Norfolk but there are no split loyalties today for the young ‘keeper. He’s blue through and through.

He has worn the colours of Town for 11 years and knows all about the derby and what it means to the supporters. 

“I have been at the Club since I was eight and when Norwich beat Ipswich when I was at school, I used to get some stick,” the 19-year-old tells the matchday programme.

“One of my best friends was at Norwich so there was some rivalry there. My family are from that way, I went to school there and I’m from Great Yarmouth so I’ve got Norfolk roots but it’s always been Ipswich for me since I was eight years old and played for the Academy team. 

“My mum supports Newcastle and my dad just likes the game so I wasn’t pushed in any direction but as soon as I became involved with Ipswich, it’s always been blue for me and I know what the derby means to the supporters.”

While Jacob is obviously hoping for a Town win this afternoon, the personal prize for him this season is to impress Mick McCarthy and goalkeeping coach Malcolm Webster and extend his stay at Portman Road. 

Whenever the matchday programme team bump into him at the training ground he always has a smile on his face but that smile would have been tested during an 18 month spell on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury that hindered his progress. He’s back fit now though and looking to make his mark. 

“I had my first pre-season in three years and as much as it’s hard work, I enjoyed it,” he said. 

“I’m completely clear of my injury now and I’m trying to get stronger and better every day. 

“I think dealing with the injury has made me mentally stronger, more mature. It has given me a different perspective. It makes you appreciate being out on the pitch and training every day. 

“It is the last year of my contract but I’m not looking too far ahead and starting to worry about that. It’s probably a bit different for goalkeepers anyway when it comes to age. There aren’t too many playing in first-teams at 19, 20.  

“For me, it’s just about concentrating on improving every day in training and learning off the other ‘keepers here. 

“I see Bart [Bialkowski] and Gerks [Dean Gerken] and how hard they work and what it takes to get to the level they have got and try and pick up things from them and the coaches here as well.”



Name: Shane McLoughlin

Age: 19

Position: Attacking midfielder

Hometown: Castle Island

Previous Clubs: Castle Island AFC, Killorglin AFC, Park FC

Joined Academy: 2013

Player you admire: Lionel Messi

Standout moment: Being on the bench in the FA Cup

Tell us something about yourself: I was born in America

Experience is vital for young players trying to break through into first-team football and Shane McLoughlin is certainly building that at both domestic and international levels.

Evidence of the progress he has made over the last year or two was shown when he played for Town during the pre-season friendlies and if it wasn’t for illness, he may have made his debut for Blues already this term. 

“I had an opportunity to play in the Stevenage game in the EFL Cup but I was ill on the Sunday night so I was unfortunately ruled out,” Shane told the matchday programme.

“The gaffer said I would have had the chance to play but I would have definitely been involved so he just wants me to keep progressing and push on.

“I was on the bench last season for the FA Cup replay at Portsmouth and the experience I had then was really good. The atmosphere at that game was crazy and nothing like I’ve ever had before.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be involved as much as I was in pre-season to be honest. I came back after the summer hoping that I would be involved and I just did the best that I could.

“I think I needed to do well because it’s a big year for me with it being the last on my contract. I’m looking at my future and I’d like that to be here so hopefully I can keep improving, do well in the U23s and be knocking on the door of the first-team. That is my aim.”

Illness may have scuppered his chance at making his first competitive appearance for Town this month, and his luck was out again when he was hoping to add to his two Ireland U18 caps in the summer.

“I played twice against Luxembourg last summer and I made the squad for the Euros with the U19s but I had to pull out through injury,” he recalled.

“It was good to make the squad but I was really unfortunate not to be back fit in time for it. I think I was only a couple of weeks off.

“I tried my hardest to get back and it was frustrating to just miss out but it was still good to be selected in the first place.”

Shane was given the captain’s armband at U23 level in Monday’s 3-2 defeat to Birmingham, though injury forced him out of the game before half-time.

“It was a good feeling to be skipper,” he said. “I was skipper in pre-season against Colchester as well so it wasn’t the first time but it was still nice have the armband.

“With the amount of quality and experience like Tommy [Smith] and Luke [Varney] who were out on the pitch at the time I was surprised to be given it.

“Nashy [Gerard Nash, U23 manager] said he wants to see a bit more of my personality on the pitch because he knows I have it in me from coaching me at U18 level.

“He just wanted me to show everybody else that I have it. That when there are more experienced players on the pitch, I don’t just sit back but go forward and impose myself on the game.”