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Woolfenden Hoping to Inspire Next Generation
Thursday, 12th Sep 2019 16:30

Town defender Luke Woolfenden would love to see other Ipswich youngsters follow in his footsteps and live the dream as a professional footballer.

Woolfenden and midfield colleague Flynn Downes spent time on Thursday at Britannia Primary School, where they were given a tremendous reception before refereeing some five-a-side games and meeting pupils for autographs and pictures as part of the long-awaited rebirth of the club’s Community Trust.

Woolfenden, 20, is very much the latest local boy made good, establishing himself in Paul Lambert’s side this season, and he smiled: “This brings back memories of my own school days. They weren’t that long ago and it reminds me of what it was like for me at school. I didn’t have a care in the world. I was just running around having a good time.

“I went to Sprites Lane Primary in Ipswich and then I went to East Bergholt High School. Every lunch break I was out playing football and it was the same again after school. My mum wasn’t too pleased when I came home with the dirty trousers and T-shirts.

“I was also an Ipswich fan when I was a kid and I had a season ticket back in the day. It would be great if today’s kids got behind the club the same way and felt more connected with the club.

“Hopefully, with me and Flynn visiting the school it will help to drive a few of them on to focus on football more – and wouldn’t it be great if even just one of them was playing for Ipswich a few years from now.

“The reception from the pupils today was amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like that before but it was very nice and it’s something I could easily get used to.”

Woolfenden has been one of several early-season success stories at Portman Road. While summer signing James Norwood has hit the ground running, strike partner Kayden Jackson has been nominated for the League One Player of the Month award, both inevitable spin-offs from Town’s unbeaten start to the campaign that has delighted supporters in growing numbers.

“It’s all going very well at the minute,” added Woolfenden. “We’ve had a good start to the season, both me and the team, and we’d be happy if it stayed that way for the rest of the season.

“I wouldn’t say I was expecting to start so many games but I was always confident that I could get in the team and play at this level.”

The youngster, who was first identified as first-team material during Mick McCarthy’s time in charge, has clearly benefited from almost a full season on loan at League Two outfit Swindon, where he scored twice in 32 league games last term.

He added: “It was good for me both on and off the pitch because it improved me as a player and also as a person.

“It was a good time for me to be away from Ipswich because it helped me to grow up. Swindon are a big club as well and everything they do is under scrutiny.

“When you’re playing here in the U23s you might have a bad game and you can brush it under the carpet but when you’re playing in League Two and points are crucial you can’t let it slide when you have a poor game.

“The pressure we were under to pick up points was good for me and I learned a lot down there.

“Phil Brown was the manager at first when I joined them. He’s managed in the Premier League so I don’t need to speak for him. Richie Wellens and Noel Hunt – both ex-Ipswich players – came in after that and it coincided with a big improvement in form.

“Richie is a very good manager and I enjoyed playing for him. To be honest I’ll be surprised if they don’t go up this season.”

Asked about the biggest change in his game as a result of his temporary stint in Wiltshire, Woolfenden added: “It’s probably my off-the-ball game.

"I’ve always been able to play football with the ball but I have improved on the other side of the game and also on the physical side of things, as well in my general defending and heading.”

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