Stockwell concern

WOODBRIDGE Town manager Micky Stockwell takes his Ridgeons League team into action at Dereham Town tomorrow concerned about holding on to his talented young players.

By Elvin King

WOODBRIDGE Town manager Micky Stockwell takes his Ridgeons League team into action at Dereham Town tomorrow concerned about holding on to his talented young players.

There is increasing interest being shown in the players former Ipswich Town and Colchester United star Stockwell has at his disposal. And 20-year-old forward Joe Francis has caught the attention of Ipswich Town.

The apprentice plasterer is believed to have been watched by a scout from the Portman Road-based club in last Saturday's 2-1 win against King's Lynn Reserves at Notcutt's Park.

Stockwell said of the front man who scored 23 league goals last season, and has so far netted eight times this campaign: “Joe has done very well for us, and he is certainly worth looking at. I have made some recommendations about him.

“If he went, we would wish him all the best. But it would be a big disappointment to lose him.”

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Francis is under contract at Woodbridge until the summer of 2008, and Stockwell confirmed that any fee would be discussed between himself and the 'buying' club.

“My biggest concern is holding on to the talented youngsters we have at Woodbridge,” added Stockwell. If we can, we will become a force to be reckoned with.”

It is not unusual for Woodbridge to field a team containing half-a-dozen teenagers thanks to their link-up with the SETEC football scheme at Copleston School.

Sixteen-year-olds Ben Seaman and Luke Read scored the goals that earned Woodbridge a notable 2-2 draw at Ipswich Wanderers last week, and it was Francis and Paul Berry - another Woodbridge player under contract - who scored in Saturday's victory.

Ipswich Town would not comment on any interest over Francis, with a spokesperson saying: “We are not able to say which scouts, if any, have been at which games and whether or not they have been looking at a certain player.”

Woodbridge are sixth-from-bottom, with five wins from 16 matches, while Dereham are in the top half of the table and will offer stiff resistance. Ben Miller has this week rejoined Woodbridge from Ipswich Wanderers.

Felixstowe and Walton United are one place above Woodbridge - six points above the relegation positions - and they have a tough match against second-from-top Needham Market.

The Seasiders have Alan Mills and Terry Layton on their books after recent moves from Wanderers, and a win for Steve Potts' side would make Christmas drinks taste even more refreshing for Felixstowe followers.

Wanderers have no game tomorrow as CRC are taking part in a Cambridgeshire County Cup match.

In the First Division, Hadleigh will take over Ely City's top-four place with victory over the Cambridgeshire-based side at Millfield.

This should be a game well worth watching, while Stowmarket Town will leapfrog Gorleston if they gain three points against the Norfolk club.

Neither leaders Debenham Leisure Centre nor third-placed Walsham-le-Willows have a game, but they meet at Walsham on Boxing Day with a 3pm kick-off.

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