McDonald takeaway for Watford

PREMIERSHIP hopefuls Watford are giving a trial to Ipswich striker Dean McDonald.

PREMIERSHIP hopefuls Watford are giving a trial to Ipswich striker Dean McDonald, writes Mel Henderson.

The 20-year-old former Arsenal trainee has been told by Town boss Joe Royle that he will not be given a new contract when his current deal expires in the summer.

But McDonald has been handed a fantastic chance to revive his career with the Hornets and will spend next week looking to impress manager Adrian Boothroyd and his staff at Vicarage Road.

The diminutive forward has started five games for Ipswich, made a further ten appearances asa substitute and scored once - the winner at Crewe in February.

He also netted once in six outings during a loan spell with League One strugglers Hartlepool, whose £75,000 offer to make the move permanent was turned down after the player made it clear he was not in favour.

Now McDonald has a chance to earn himself a move to the Premiership, with Watford play-off certainties despite a recent form lapse that has seen them win just one of their last six games.

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Another player told he has no future at Portman Road, defender or midfielder Scott Mitchell, is to have trials with League Two club Boston United.

Meanwhile, Royle today hailed teenage striker Billy Clarke as “a class act” after seeing him make his full debut for Colchester in last night's 2-0 win over Hartlepool at Layer Road.

Clarke, 18, moved down the A12 on loan last month and after three substitute appearances he was given his first start for the U's.

Royle was accompanied by academy director Billy Clarke, reserve coach Steve McCall and goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes.

The Town boss said: “Colchester manager Phil Parkinson promised Billy would get games when he asked about taking him on loan and he is clearly benefiting from the experience.

“Billy had a shot after about 30 seconds that whizzed narrowly over the bar and he had a couple more that were close later on, plus he worked hard and made some good passes in behind the Hartlepool defence.

“He tired a bit towards the end, which wasn't surprising because it's the best part of five weeks since he played a full game for our reserves.

“The Colchester fans have clearly taken to him, but he is only there to get some useful experience. We are delighted with his progress and excited about his prospects for next season.

“He is well on course to make an impact with us.”

Cork-born Clarke made his senior Ipswich debut as a substitute at Cardiff in November and then started the home clash with QPR the following month.

Royle added: “Billy had a couple of nasty injuries but has recovered well. He is still not strong enough for what we need - but he is well on his way.

“We are looking for him to return for pre-season training and be in our faces, saying 'Here I am, pick me'. The signs are definitely very promising.”