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Ipswich Town’s new Everton loanee Callum Connolly hailed as ‘Mr Versatile’ by Joe Royle

PUBLISHED: 14:03 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 01 September 2017

Callum Connolly (left) in action for Wigan against Manchester United's Marcos Rojo during an FA Cup tie last season. Photo: PA

Callum Connolly (left) in action for Wigan against Manchester United's Marcos Rojo during an FA Cup tie last season. Photo: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Ipswich Town have signed ‘Mr Versatile’ in the form of Everton teenager Callum Connolly, says Joe Royle.

Ex-Blues boss Royle now oversees youth development at the Toffees and was delighted to see defender Connolly head to Suffolk on a season-long loan late on transfer deadline day.

The 19-year-old defender made his Premier League debut when replacing Seamus Coleman in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Goodison Park in April 2016.

He then played a key role for Everton’s Under-23s, managed by ex-Blues loanee David Unsworth, in the first half of last season to set them of the way towards an inaugural Premier League 2 title.

After that came 18 appearances on loan at Wigan in the second half of the campaign, earning rave reviews despite the Latics’ being relegated to League One, before he helped England’s Under-20s win the World Cup this summer.

“He’s a talented all-round player,” said Royle. “He’s 6ft plus, quick, strong, reliable and decent in the air – and he’s certainly Mr Versatile.

“It’s always been easy to play him in wherever there is a void to fill. He’s played a lot at right-back, but he’s been a left-back for England, done wing-back at times and has played games at centre-back too. He played centre-back at Chelsea for our Under-23s last weekend and we won 3-0.

“And we suspect that he’ll eventually end up as a holding midfielder because he’s got goals in him. I watched his debut for Wigan at Burton back in January and he scored two good headers.

“Versatility is an asset, but it can also be a curse for a player and I’m sure he’ll want to settle in a position soon. I haven’t had chance to speak to Mick (McCarthy) yet about where he plans to play him yet.”

Town’s three senior centre-backs – Luke Chambers, Adam Webster, Tommy Smith – are all currently injured, with full-backs Jonas Knudsen and Jordan Spence deputising at the heart of defence in the recent games against Brentford (2-0 win) and Fulham (2-0 defeat).

Connolly is one of eight Everton players on loan at Championship clubs, with Royle also keeping an eye on the development of Joe Williams (Barnsley), Kieran Dowell (Nottingham Forest), Brendan Galloway, Tyias Browning (both Sunderland), Matthew Pennington (Leeds), Liam Walsh (Birmingham) and Antonee Robinson (Bolton). Conor Grant, who had a brief spell with Town last season, is on loan at League Two side Crewe.

“We might not be the best, but we keep going. It’s an endearing quality we have.”

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