Westlake hails Town team-mates

IAN Westlake today hailed his success in Ipswich Town Supporters Club's Player of the Year award as a tribute to his team-mates.The 20-year-old from Clacton received his trophy at the Galleria, Portman Road, last night after breaking into the first team this season and making a big impression on the left side of midfield.

By Elvin King

IAN Westlake today hailed his success in Ipswich Town Supporters Club's Player of the Year award as a tribute to his team-mates.

The 20-year-old from Clacton received his trophy at the Galleria, Portman Road, last night after breaking into the first team this season and making a big impression on the left side of midfield.

He scored his seventh goal of the season at Bramall Lane on Friday when Ipswich drew 1-1 with Sheffield United. Following Saturday's results, Ipswich need to beat Cardiff at home in their final league game to be certain of reaching the play-offs.

Ironically, with Wigan losing at Nottingham Forest, Town could have lost on Friday and still be the same position as they are now.

A full compliment of Town players were at last night's function along with manager Joe Royle and his coaching staff, with top scorer Darren Bent and goalkeeper Kelvin Davis second and third in the poll.

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Westlake said: “This is a massive compliment for the way I have played this season, but it's an award for the team as I would not have been able to play the football I have without the talent of the guys around me.

“I have to be happy with my form and the main reason I have played well is that I have thoroughly enjoyed my football.

“I have been able to feed off the experienced players in the side and they have been an absolute joy to work around.

“Skipper Jim Magilton has been particularly helpful and he would be my choice for player of the season.”

Westlake was watched by England Under-21 manager David Platt at Gillingham a fortnight ago and has been a virtual ever-present since breaking into the Town team in late September.

Royle was full of praise for the rising Portman Road star.

“It is a fantastic achievement for a player in his first full season,” he said. “Ian went in and just got better and better.

“He is a confident, fit young man who relished it. Sometimes young players feel their way in gradually but Ian just took to it and apart from a couple of times when we gave him a rest he has made it hard to leave him out.

“He has done very well and has added goals to his game which he didn't really have in the reserves.”

Ipswich players have today and tomorrow off and then begin preparations for their massive match against Cardiff, which starts at 1pm on Sunday. Three clubs can still overtake them and a draw may not be good enough as Town's goal difference is not high enough.

In what was one of the tightest votes for years, almost 8,500 fans entered their choice with Westlake winning 21 per cent of the vote. Bent received 17 per cent and Kelvin Davis polled 12 per cent.

Westlake also scooped the John Kerridge Award as the Town staff's choice for Most Improved Player.

Supporters' Club chairman Ian Pennock said: “It was a difficult choice for supporters this year and quite close.

“There was no one player completely outstanding this season. There were a lot of good individual performances but there were also a lot of individual mistakes in games.”

Outstanding 17-year-old Dean Bowditch won the Dale Roberts Academy Player of the Year and a special award was also presented to the club secretary David Rose who retires at the end of the season.

Awards were also made to players who had made full debuts this season with Westlake, Lewis Price, Dean Bowditch, Georges Santos, Drissa Diallo, Shefki Kuqi, Chris Bart-Williams and Matt Elliott all qualifying.

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