December 11 2013 Latest news:
By Stuart Watson
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
THERE was one man in Ipswich particularly pleased to see Elliott Hewitt make his Blues debut at the weekend.
Wales Under-21 boss Geraint Williams still has a house in the town and has been keeping close tabs on the progress of the Rhyl-born 18-year-old after he made the move to Portman Road in the summer.
A host of Premier League clubs – including the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea – were tracking the athletic young right-back last season following his rise to prominence in a Macclesfield Town side that were ultimately relegated from League Two.
The need for double hip surgery meant top-level interest dropped off though and former Town boss Paul Jewell was able to get him for just £150,000.
And following a lengthy rehabilitation period, the teenager – who made his Football League debut at the age of 16 and was soon fast-tracked to the Wales Under-21 squad – came off the bench in the 88th minute of Saturday’s 3-0 home win over Millwall.
“He’s a player that is very much on my radar,” said Williams. “I’ve watched the DVDs of his games with our Under-21s when Bryan Flynn was in charge and I was impressed. We’ve had him playing well above his age group for some time because we wanted to test the natural athleticism that he has.
“I was at Playford Road to watch his first game back after his operation, against Swansea’s Under-21s, alongside Mick McCarthy. I think it’s fair to say we were both pleased with what we saw, especially as he had been out for so long.”
He continued: “I’ve spoken to Elliott at the training ground a couple of times now and I’ve been impressed by his attitude. He’s so enthusiastic about the game and just loves playing.
“He’s a young man and it’s important we don’t heap too much expectation on him, but he’s got an awful lot of attributes. He’s really looking forward to proving himself to myself and Mick – and we’re both hopeful he can do that.”
Former Macclesfield boss Gary Simpson said: “We took Elliott on after he was released by Wrexham and could see very quickly that he was a bright prospect. We gave him his debut at 16, but, to be honest, I wanted to play him before that.
“He was tremendous for us during a difficult period and there were a number of Premier League clubs looking to spend some serious money on him before the hip problems.
“In my opinion, Ipswich have got themselves a real bargain. He’s a really grounded, level-headed lad with all the attributes to make it to the very top.”