You can't keep Connor out of things!

YOU can't keep Connor Wickham out of the limelight, even when he isn't even on the team-sheet.Ipswich Town Academy boss Sammy Morgan admitted to a "little gamesmanship," when leaving Wickham's name out of his original squad during the morning of Tuesday night's FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Arsenal.

Carl Marston

by Carl Marston

YOU can't keep Connor Wickham out of the limelight, even when he isn't even on the team-sheet.

Ipswich Town Academy boss Sammy Morgan admitted to a "little gamesmanship," when leaving Wickham's name out of his original squad during the morning of Tuesday night's FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against Arsenal.

And yet Morgan had good reason. In fact, he had two good reasons.

Firstly, regular first teamer Wickham, who has been tracked by a host of Premier League clubs in recent months, was carrying an injury from Town's last gasp 3-2 home win over Coventry City on Saturday.

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And secondly, Morgan didn't want to give away his team to the intrigued Gunners.

Town certainly did not over-step the mark in keeping Wickham's name out of the original squad, and they certainly broke no rules.

And when the all-important official team-sheet was handed to referee Mr Knowles, an hour before kick-off, in line with Football Association regulations, Wickham was down as the No. 9 in the Town side, rather than previous No. 9 Caolan Lavery.

In accordance with FA rules, each club must reveal their teams at least an hour before kick-off to the referee. If one of that squad is then injured in the warm-up, preceding kick-off, then the team can only be changed with the permission of the opponents.

Morgan confirmed: "There was a little bit of gamesmanship, but Connor did have a slight strain and he hadn't trained on Monday "There was more riding on this result, because it was a Cup game rather than a league match, so I didn't want to give away my team to Arsenal at 11 in the morning."

As it transpired, Wickham was to play a key role as Town notched a superb 2-0 win over the Gunners. He netted the second on 12 minutes, just a minute after fellow striker Ronan Murray had broken the deadlock, to make it a great night for Town's teenagers at Barnet's Underhill.

The mere fact that the match took place at Underhill, rather than the Emirates Stadium, also had a bearing on the team-sheet saga.

Arsenal's request for Town's team earlier in the day may have had something to do with the fact that the team-sheets were probably printed at the Emirates, and then had to be transported to Barnet.

Manager Morgan duly gave the Londoners, as the home club, his 16-man squad, with Wickham as a glaring omission - there was a possibility that the 16-year-old could have failed a fitness test later that day.

Arsenal duly printed out Town's team in numerical order from 1 to 11, as the basis for all the team-sheets that were circulating around Underhill on Tuesday night.

Every supporter was given one of these team-sheets at the turnstiles, and even the Tannoy announcer had this copy, which explains why he awarded Town's second goal to Lavery, rather than Wickham. This merely added to the Wickham - "was he, or was he not playing? - conspiracy theories.

Of course any watching scout, at Tuesday night's game, would have put two-and-two together and worked out that Wickham was in fact playing. But it all made for a very entertaining evening.

And let's not forget. Town knocked out the holders 2-0, and deservedly so, and can now look forward to a home game against Fulham in round five.

Follow Carl on www.twitter.com Carl_Marston

IN FACTFILE

THE Blues warmed up for their memorable FA Youth Cup midweek victory over Arsenal with a confidence-boosting 2-0 home win over Southampton in the Academy League.

There was little action in the first half until the 44th minute when Luke Hyam broke away to fire a vicious shot that Saints keeper Dovey could only parry into the path of Jamie Griffiths, who finished with ease. Town made the game safe 10 minutes from time when Clark once again dribbled through the entire Southampton defence.

This time he finished confidently with a low shot. Following their tremendous FA Youth Cup victory over Arsenal, Town travel to London on Saturday for a dress rehearsal of the fifth round tie against Fulham.

Ipswich v Southampton: Ranieri, Bennett, Dunbar, Hyam, Meekings, Eastman, Clark, Carson, Lavery, Murray, Griffiths. Substitutes: McKeown, Winstone, Brandon, Carvalho, Whight.

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