Laws Delighted With Fantastic Winter
Tuesday, 16th Apr 2013 13:57
Leiston boss Danny Laws says Town academy striker Tom Winter has been “fantastic” since he joined the Ryman League Premier Division side on loan last month and would be delighted if other young Blues were to spend time at Victory Road in the future. Winter has netted four times since making the temporary switch to Leiston last month.
“He’s doing fantastic,” Laws told TWTD. “He came in at very short notice, which was good for us because we were up against a deadline of March 31st and I’d only been in the job a couple of days.
“My assistant Neil Reader, who works at the ITFC Charitable Trust, put in a call to academy director Bryan Klug about Tom, who we had highlighted because he used to go to the school I teach at, Alde Valley School in Leiston. I’ve known Tom since he was 12 years old.
“I think the phone call went in on the Wednesday morning and we needed to get him signed by the Saturday.
“A few things needed to be done, we needed the green light from the club, from Bryan and the lad, and it’s been nothing but good news as I’m concerned.
“What was great for us was that he was up for it, the club were up for it and before we knew it he was in our building just before the deadline, which was brilliant.
“He made his debut when he came off the bench in our game against Lowestoft and has started every game since.
“He’s scored four goals in now in five starts and he’s got a couple of assists as well and I think he’s really enjoying himself. It’s great for us and as long as he and the club are getting something out of it, it seems to be win-win.”
Blues boss Mick McCarthy has been critical of the new U21 league, believing that young players are better off learning their trade in more senior football where games matter more and Laws says Winter has told him that he has enjoyed that aspect of the Ryman League: “I did speak to Tom about it and he liked the competitiveness of it.
“Every footballer steps on to the pitch to win but I think that the result at first team level, albeit at a lower level, does mean a lot, to the paying customers and it means a lot to the players he’s playing with and playing against.
“On Saturday, for example, we went to Lewes a club which was fighting relegation and maybe at U21 level you don’t get promotion and relegation, it maybe doesn’t mean as much.
“Those Lewes lads who left the pitch on Saturday were devastated as we’d got a winner with 12 minutes to go.
“Tom will have seen their disappointment, whereas if you lose an U21 game towards the end of the season it’s got different meaning.”
He says Winter has settled into the squad well: “I think he’s really enjoyed it. He’s been on Twitter and has been really positive.
“He’s mixed in well, the lads have made him feel welcome, they’re a great bunch of lads at Leiston and he’s fitted right in.
“His performances have been top drawer with the goals and the assists and that’s helped him settle, but he’s also fitted in with the group.”
Laws believes that the willingness to take on the challenge of playing in the Ryman League says a lot about the second-year scholar, who has been offered a one-year professional contract by the Blues: “I think for an 18-year-old we have to put this into perspective. He’s had the courage to get out of his comfort zone and go and play at this level.
“He says he’s been impressed with the standard but it’s out of his comfort zone and that shows a lot of inner strength, which I know you need to be a professional footballer, and you can’t argue with the level of performance either.
“It stacks up – 1) he’s been brave enough to do it, 2) he’s been physically able to cope with it and 3) he’s scored the goals and set them up.”
He’s even come up against a veteran former Brentford, Crystal Palace and Southampton defender and been far from overawed or outmuscled: “Darren Powell has taken over as joint-player-manager of Hampton and Richmond and he was playing at centre-half and Tom was playing against him. He’s a bit of a man mountain!
"Tom actually set up our third goal that night as well as scoring twice in a 3-3 draw.”
Laws would love Winter to be the first of many Town youngsters spending time at Victory Road: “It would be great for us, for sure.
“This has definitely worked, I have to say that, and it does bode well for the future if Ipswich have any more players who they feel would benefit from the experience as well. It’s definitely benefited us and I would very much like it to continue in the future if possible.”
Former Town academy players Seb Dunbar and Stuart Boardley are also in the Leiston squad but Laws says it’s unusual for current Blues players to play in the Ryman League: “To have a current Town player is a bit of a first really.
“I know Jack Ainsley and Joe Whight are at Chelmsford, which is also non-league, but to get an 18-year-old to come and play at this level is unique, I think.
“If they think it’s good for his development, then great, we’re big beneficiaries. It’s been so positive.”
If Town fans want to catch Winter in action with Leiston before the end of the season, they have plenty of opportunities, Laws says.
“Due to games being called off because of the weather we’re at home on Tuesday, we’re at home Thursday, then we’re at home on Sunday. That’s a big one, that’s against Whitehawk, who are top of the league.
“Then we’re at home the following Wednesday and then we finish with an away game over at Concord Rangers, who we’ve got twice in the next five games.”
It’s 10th-placed Leiston’s first season in the division, having been the Ryman League Division One North champions last year, and after taking over with 12 games to go, Laws wants to finish season on a positive note: “Results have been OK for the last seven, so we want to make sure that in the last five we go out on a high.”
As far as his thoughts on Winter’s long-term prospects based on his spell at Victory Road, Laws sees a lot of potential: “I know it’s only five full starts, but it bodes well for the lad.”
Photo: Action Images
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