Paul Lambert took the time to hail his young players despite falling to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Colchester United in the EFL Trophy last night.
Lambert deployed a team of seven homegrown youth talents for the tie after having already secured their place in the next round. Their defeat to the Essex-based side, though, meant that the Tractor Boys finished in second place of the group and will face an away tie in the next round.
In the game, the likes of Brett McGavin and Lewis Gibbs made their debuts, with Tawanda Chirewa also – at 16 years and 31 days – becoming the second youngest player in the Club’s history when he appeared as a substitute late on in the second half.
Lambert chose to disregard the result and instead focus on how satisfying it was to see so many youngsters get their first taste of senior football.
Speaking to iFollow Ipswich, he said: “I’m really proud of the team. We were excellent. We had 16-year-olds in the team at the end so that’s great for the Club going forward.
“That is magic to see so many young players out there. The whole experience will be great for them; the bus journey, eating with the lads pre-match; being in the first-team environment.”
The manager knows all too well about making your debut early in your career and relayed his own experiences in relation to the same ones that he has given his players.
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“I was 15,16 when Alex Miller threw me in at St Mirren. You need someone to believe in you. Without someone believing in me, I wouldn’t have had the career I had. I wouldn’t be talking to you here tonight.”
You can’t blame Lambert for wanting to promote his youth players. Given that it is the Leasing.Com Trophy and the team were already through to the next round of the competition, it is difficult to argue with his decision, even despite their 1-0 defeat.
He is right to focus on the positives and what a privilege it is to see players as young as 16 break through into the first team. It is clearly something he is passionate about too; relating it to his time as an up and coming player shows just how in touch he is with the academy. Supporters should be thankful of this.
If they win in the next round, the defeat won’t matter at all, but the experience some of these players now have will mean much much more for years to come.