Jim to turn deaf ear to critics
IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton has vowed to turn a deaf ear to fans' criticism of Matt Richards.On more than one occasion this season, most recently when he was substituted during the New Year's Day win over Championship leaders Birmingham, the former England Under-21 international has been the Portman Road boo boys' number one target.
By Mel Henderson
IPSWICH boss Jim Magilton has vowed to turn a deaf ear to fans' criticism of Matt Richards.
On more than one occasion this season, most recently when he was substituted during the New Year's Day win over Championship leaders Birmingham, the former England Under-21 international has been the Portman Road boo boys' number one target.
And while academy graduate Richards is adamant the abuse will not get to him, Magilton is even more insistent that the player will continue to figure prominently in his plans.
The Town boss said: “Matt Richards is an important member of our squad and will continue to be so. He's a great character and he never hides.
“There are times when he picks the ball up in silly areas and times when he gives the ball away in silly areas but any player who keeps wanting the ball as he does is OK as far as I am concerned.”
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Magilton stopped well short of issuing a “get off his back” plea to the minority group who have singled out the full-back or midfielder who was 22 on Boxing Day.
He said: “I used to sit in the stand at Anfield when I was a young player and hear people giving Ronnie Whelan a hard time.
“I used to think he was the best player in the team and he went on to achieve an awful lot for that club.”
Harlow-born Richards was just 17 when he made his Ipswich debut in August 2002, in the away leg of a UEFA Cup qualifying tie against Avenir Beggen when Marcus Stewart's late goal earned a 1-0 win.
That made him the youngest-ever Town player to appear in Europe and he was a substitute in the return leg as the Luxembourg part-timers were thumped 8-1 at Portman Road.
Richards went into today's FA Cup third round tie at Chester with 156 senior outings and seven goals to his credit.
Of the current squad, only veteran pair Fabian Wilnis and Richard Naylor, the club's longest-serving player, have more appearances on the board.