Royle in battle to keep Dean

IPSWICH are in a battle with the Football Association in a bid to keep new strike sensation Dean Bowditch on board for their play-off bid.The 16-year-old came on as a 70th minute substitute in yesterday's Anglian derby win at Norwich and helped create the Town goals for Fabian Wilnis and Darren Bent in an impressive display.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH are in a battle with the Football Association in a bid to keep new strike sensation Dean Bowditch on board for their play-off bid.

The 16-year-old came on as a 70th minute substitute in yesterday's Anglian derby win at Norwich and helped create the Town goals for Fabian Wilnis and Darren Bent in an impressive display.

But Bowditch is due to report this week for England Under-17 squad duty ahead of a prestige youth tournament.

Town manager Joe Royle said: "Under normal circumstances Dean could have gone, but we need him here right now. He made a successful debut yesterday and, with a stack of games coming up, we need to have Dean here with us.

"We have Marcus Bent injured and Pablo Counago suspended. Dean was given his chance and he showed that he can do it at this level.

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"The fact that he's not in the reserves tonight for our game at Southampton shows that we are wanting him this week for the game at Wolves on Wednesday, at home to Stoke on Saturday and away at Crystal Palace tomorrow week."

Town secretary David Rose has been in talks with the FA and has put the Blues case as firmly as possible.

The England Under-17 side are managed by Dick Bate and will this week begin preparations for the tournament.

The England youngsters take on the Czech Republic at Chester on March 12, Slovenia at Bolton on March 14 and Scotland at Tranmere on March 16.

Bowditch, a former England schoolboy international from Harlow, has already made a name for himself in the Under-16 squad.

He was one of the stars of a summer tournament staged in England that included Brazil.

Earlier this season Town secured the release of their 19-year-old first team pair of Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose after they had been selected for Les Reed's England Under-20 squad for the world youth championships in Dubai.

Royle said of Bowditch: "Dean may have only had a brief glimpse of First Division football, but he is a player I've been earmarking for some time. He came on against Norwich to show that he is a capable of doing a job for us at a time like this when we certainly need him.

"We have made representations to the Football Association, setting out our case and hopefully they will come back to us with the right answer as far as this club is concerned.

"We can but try and we're doing just that."

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