Royle: Win it for Billy

CROCKED kid Billy Clarke today spoke of his devastation at missing out on the FA Youth Cup Final.And as the 17-year-old youngster awaited a scan to discover the extent of his knee injury, Ipswich boss Joe Royle called on the Town youngsters to win the trophy for their absent colleague.

CROCKED kid Billy Clarke today spoke of his devastation at missing out on the FA Youth Cup Final.

And as the 17-year-old youngster awaited a scan to discover the extent of his knee injury, Ipswich boss Joe Royle called on the Town youngsters to win the trophy for their absent colleague.

The Republic of Ireland youth international will undergo the scan as his pals prepare to face Southampton counterparts in tonight's second leg at Portman Road, kick-off 7.45pm.

Ipswich managed a 2-2 draw without Clarke in Monday's first game and are determined to go one better this evening, when the Sky Sports cameras will again be present.


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Town face a crucial Championship visit to Leeds tomorrow. And Royle took time out from his preparations for the trip to Elland Road to urge the youth squad members: “Go out and win it for Billy.

“I am very disappointed for the lad, as we all are at the club. He played such an important part in getting the side to the final.

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“We can only imagine how he feels at missing out and nothing we say can change it. But if there's one thing guaranteed to put a smile on the kid's face it will be to see his mates finish the job and for him to join in the celebrations afterwards.”

Clarke is having a scan to determine whether there is cartilage damage, in which case he will require a routine operation.

He suffered medial ligament problems in his left knee towards the end of Town's semi-final, second leg, win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane last week.

Clarke's goal in the first leg at Portman Road was his fourth in this season's competition, out on its own as the most prestigious youth event in English football.

He said: “I was devastated when I was told I wouldn't be playing in either leg of the final. To get this far and then miss out was a terrible blow.

“But I'm beginning to realise that football has its ups and downs. I was injured earlier in the season and it kept me out for six weeks before Christmas.

“When I came back things started to pick up, only for this to happen. My only consolation, really, is that I'm in my first year and I'll still be eligible next season.

“Ideally, I want us to win it tonight and then I'd love to play a part in retaining it next time. I hope that's not asking too much!”

Town are bidding to complete a hat-trick of successes - they also triumphed in 1973 and 1975 - while Southampton are in the final for the first time.

Clarke's pal and fellow countryman, Cathal Lordan, was Town's two-goal hero in the first game four days ago.

“Cathal and I go back a few years,” he said. “He only lived about 15 minutes away from me in Cork and we got to know each other when we were both invited to Ipswich for trials when he were about 12.

“We were also team-mates with the county team and we played against each other for our club sides.

“We have travelled over from Ireland many times and I think we have helped each other to settle in Ipswich. It's good that there are a few Irish boys because if I was the only one I might have got homesick.”

Clarke will meet up tonight with his own 16-strong fan club headed by his parents, grandfather, brother, sister and girlfriend Jemma.

Then his aim will be to ensure a full recovery from his injury before returning to Ipswich for pre-season training in July.

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