Matt's derby regret

IPSWICH youngster Matt Richards had only one regret after his first league start coincided with a long-awaited derby victory.The 18-year-old's father and sister were present at Carrow Road, but he sighed: "My mum couldn't make it.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH youngster Matt Richards had only one regret after his first league start coincided with a long-awaited derby victory.

The 18-year-old's father and sister were present at Carrow Road, but he sighed: "My mum couldn't make it.

"She had booked to go away with some friends and she had already left by the time I knew I was going to be playing against Norwich.

"My parents tend to be there at every game I play. They even went up to Newcastle and Sunderland when I was playing for the youth team."

But nothing could curb Richards' enjoyment of the occasion and he revealed how special it was to have pals Darren Ambrose and Dean Bowditch on the pitch alongside him.

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He said: "I've been playing with Darren since I was six and I went to school with Dean. We've all known each other for a long time and even our families are quite close.

"I've been with the club since I was ten. We all came through the scheme in Harlow, where Steve Leslie and John Sykes coached us and now we've all played for the first team."

Richards is already in the record books as the youngest player to represent Ipswich in Europe, having made his senior debut in a UEFA Cup qualifier away to Avenir Beggen last August when he was just 17.

He revealed how boss Joe Royle warned him in plenty of time that he would make his full league debut at Norwich in what was a must-win game.

He added: "I knew a couple of days beforehand. We were working on it in training, how we were going to play, so I was ready for it.

"I had time to prepare, get my head together and focus on the game. I was happy with my

performance. I just made up my mind to work as hard as I could.

"It was a great win, especially coming against Norwich. It was just what we needed to get back up there and push for the play-offs. I hope I did enough to hold my place for the visit to Wolves on Wednesday.

"I realise the injuries and suspensions helped me to get a place in the team. From that point of view I was fortunate and I was also lucky that the manager decided to use wing-backs, which is where I can slot in."

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