Debenham High School’s Ipswich Town Under-18s’ starlet George Fowler is hoping to set up a plum home tie with Newcastle United by seeing off Sunderland at the Stadium of Light tonight (Tuesday).
The 16-year-old first-year scholar is in his fourth year of under-18s football and is believed to be the Blues’ first player since Connor Wickham to play three age groups up in the academy.
The versatile player who hails from Ashfield, near Debenham, has already made his under-21s debut for the club while on a two-day a week release agreement as a Year 11 pupil at Debenham.
He partnered now first-team regular star Christophe Berra against then Premier League Cardiff City at Portman Road in August 2013 aged just 15.
Fowler has spent much of this season frustrated with a long-term injury, but after making his comeback on Saturday, is seen by Town’s academy director Bryan Klug as a key player for tonight’s clash at Premier League Sunderland (7pm).
“George Fowler played an hour on Saturday so he’s in the frame,” Klug said, speaking to independent Ipswich Town site TWTD (www.twtd.co.uk) earlier today. “He’s been missing for most of the season but he’s a big player for us, so it strengthens us a little bit, especially with Matt Clarke being with the first team. It’s good to have George back at centre-half.
“Everybody else is raring to go, we just want to play a bit better than we did at Colchester.”
With Fowler missing for that second-round tie at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Ipswich scraped through in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw.
“That was a horrible game, a difficult game. It will be a different game tonight. We just want to put in a performance, that’s all,” said Klug.
The Sky Bet Championship Club’s academy director, previously at Tottenham Hotspur before resuming his role at Portman Road, told the Diss Express in February 2014 that Fowler had already attracted the attention of first-team manager Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor.
“He is not just making his mark in games, the manager is very aware of him and TC (Terry Connor) as well,” he said.
“He is a very good lad and very mature.
“Mick (McCarthy) was a centre-half and a big defender. He has always had an interest in him and had more than a few words with George.
“If George continues to progress, I am sure he will keep a good eye on him.”