Jim's challenge to Town youngsters

IPSWICH Town skipper Jim Magilton today threw down a challenge to the club's rapidly emerging players.

IPSWICH Town skipper Jim Magilton today threw down a challenge to the club's rapidly emerging players.

“Become as good as Richard Naylor and you will have achieved something in the game,” said the genial Irishman after Town's 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road.

Starting the game with a team that included five who had come through the Ipswich academy, it was the youngsters who gained the headlines in a notable win.

But Magilton reserved his greatest praise for 28-year-old Naylor, who came through the Town ranks before the flourishing academy was formed.

Naylor soared to head Town's first goal against the promoted Owls and helped marshal a makeshift defence when the visitors threatened briefly in the second period.

And it was fitting that he was handed the captain's armband by Magilton when the skipper left the field in the 67th minute after playing against one of his former clubs.

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“Richard just gets better and better,” said Magilton. “There is no one in our dressing room who I have greater respect for.

“He has come through adversity with a knee injury almost ending his career. And he has switched roles from a striker to a central defender.

“Richard has grown into that new role and is a very big player for the team. It has been phenomenal the way he has reached the position he is at today, and Richard is a fine example to every young player on our books.

“He never moans and just gets on with the job in hand. Everybody looks up to him and we could not have a better man at the heart of our defence.”

And Magilton had a good word for another experienced campaigner in the Ipswich side Fabian Wilnis.

“Fabian has done really well since Jason De Vos was injured and he looks like a player who has played in the middle of the defence all his career.”

Magilton had a cortisone injection on his troublesome toe injury after Saturday's match, and is keeping his fingers crossed that this clears up the problem.

“It has gradually been getting worse for the last eight or nine months and to be honest I am getting fed up with the regular injections that allow me to play,” said the 36-year-old, who is in his last season with Ipswich.

“It should settle down now - I certainly hope so.”

Magilton admits that Ipswich are going through a transitional period following the transfer of key players at the end of last season.

“We will have our ups and downs, and hopefully more ups. Our coaching staff deserve a great deal of credit in producing our young players, and the youngsters have all grabbed their chances.

“They have not hid, and it is a pleasure to play in the same team. The two Deans were exceptional up front on Saturday and made all the right decisions.

“The more talented youngsters we blood the better it will be and if it is a young side that plays against Yeovil in the Carling Cup tomorrow we will still be going all out to win as winning breeds success.”

Town manager Joe Royle said that he would be resting some of his more experienced players at Portman Road tomorrow.

Ian Westlake scored Town's second goal on a day when they were missing De Vos, Lewis Price, Sam Parkin and Nicky Forster.

Parkin took a kick in the face in training on Friday and needed 20 stitches in a wound from his forehead to his nose. He hopes to be fit for the visit to bottom-of-the-table Millwall this Saturday.

The Londoners had keeper Andy Marshall sent off on Saturday and he will be suspended this weekend.