Academy rewards as Town get Oskar

IPSWICH are casting their net far and wide in the never-ending search for top young talent.They will break new ground in the summer when the first-ever Icelandic scholar joins the successful Portman Road academy.

IPSWICH are casting their net far and wide in the never-ending search for top young talent.

They will break new ground in the summer when the first-ever Icelandic scholar joins the successful Portman Road academy.

Promising young goalkeeper Oskar Petursson, who was 16 in January, has already agreed a two-year deal.

And he could be joined by fellow countryman Bjorn Orri Hermannsson - although the Fylkir midfielder has admirers right across the continent.

Hermannsson, who will be 16 tomorrow week, has been made an offer to come to Ipswich. But Town's academy director Bryan Klug admitted: “He can take his pick from a number of clubs.”

German giants Borussia Dortmund are among those with an interest in Hermannsson, but Klug added: “We are hopeful he will decide to come here.”

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Ipswich are also looking to Hungary for new recruits after assistant manager Willie Donachie received a tip-off.

Midfielder Zoltan Stieber, a 16-year-old from Ujpest, has already impressed in trials at Portman Road.

Stieber has also spent a similar spell with Leicester and last season accepted an invitation from Arsenal after the Premiership champions were alerted to him.

Klug said: “Willie knows coaches at Ujpest who came over here and we liked the look of Zoltan.

“He is a very talented young player and we are trying to get him back over to have another look. I'm not sure where that one will lead.”

But Town have definitely pulled off something of a coup by persuading Petursson that his immediate future lies in Suffolk.

He is regarded as the best young keeper in Scandinavia and he and Hermannsson are colleagues in the Iceland Under-17 squad.

Petursson is on the books of Grindavik, where academy recruitment officer Malcolm Moore is currently visiting.

Moore has met the boy's parents and schoolteachers because he is keen to continue his education when he arrives in Ipswich.

He will come to England with his father for more talks next month, although he has already been at the academy for successful trials.

Klug added: “Malcolm has been working hard at establishing contacts in Iceland.

“We see it as an area that has already produced a number of leading players but is still largely untapped.

“Both Oskar and Bjorn have impressed sufficiently for us to make them offers and we are delighted that Oskar has already accepted.

“There is another young striker, Viktor Unnar Illugason, who was over and scored for us in a game against West Ham.

“He is a year younger than the other two and we like the look of him as well, so he will probably be back at some stage.”

Ipswich academy teams are regular visitors to Iceland to compete in the Rey Cup, while ex-Town favourite Hermann Hreidarsson, now with Charlton, has joined the Friends of Academy set-up to offer cash support.

But despite the introduction of a handful of foreign youngsters, Klug stressed that Ipswich remain committed to finding young local talent.

They have already unearthed diamonds in Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble and James Scowcroft, all Suffolk-born, who brought in almost £20million in transfer fees.

And Joe Royle's promotion-chasing squad includes academy graduates in Darren Bent, Dean Bowditch, Ian Westlake, Lewis Price and Matt Richards.

Other youngsters, including Scott Mitchell, Darryl Knights, Aidan Collins and Gerard Nash have also featured in the Championship.

Billy Clarke and Owen Garvan, key members of the Town side that travels to Colchester in a week's time for an FA Youth Cup quarter-final, have also been called up by Royle but have yet to play at senior level.

Klug said: “Our main selling point is that young players coming to Ipswich will get their chance when they are ready - and that applies wherever they are from.

“We are not into offering financial inducements.

“First and foremost, we want to identify the best young players in the area and bring them in.”