Academy Irish: Chelsea and Ipswich Youth
The latest Academy Irish feature focuses on two clubs: Chelsea who have just one Irish player in the 2010-2011 FA Premier Academy League, and Ipswich who have just two Ireland youngsters.
Although born in Reading, Anton Rodgers has chosen to play for Ireland, and represented us at under-15, under-16, and under-17 level. He’s the son of former Chelsea reserve manager Brendan Rodgers, who is now the boss of Swansea City. Rodgers joined Chelsea from Reading under-13s, and the midfielder has done well for the youths so far, playing a dozen games last season, and scored a stunning goal against Crystal Palace. Rodgers will hope to be a first choice central midfielder for the Blues this season
With Roy Keane at the helm of Ipswich Town’s senior side, they are sure to recruit a lot of Irish players old and young. With ten Irish players registered to the senior team, new academy acquisition Conor O’Donnell has a lot of inspiration. 16 year-old O’Donnell was signed by the Tractor Boys in April, and the goalkeeper has already won fans in Academy Director Malcolm Moore and goalkeeping coach James Hollman. Upon signing him, Moore said of the young keeper signed from Buncrana Hearts “He’s developed rapidly over the last 18 months and is now the Republic of Ireland U16s’ number two goalkeeper, but has got really good potential.
“He’s growing all the time and [goalkeeper-coach] James Hollman loves him. He’s a glutton for work and we’ve flown him in from Brussels, where he’s been with the Republic U16 squad, to be at the induction.
“He’s got good, solid technique, he’s a good shot-stopper, brave and, unusually for a goalkeeper, he can kick with both feet.”
Nicknamed TioTio, sixeteen year-old striker Carel Tiofack came to Ipswich from Ballincollig AFC. Also capable of playing on the wing, the Cameroon-born speedy forward has been an important part of the Republic of Ireland under-16s side, scoring against Israel in January, and was due to play for the under-17s in their Euro 2011 qualifiers, but had to pull out due to injury. A favourite of John Morling, he’s sure to be called back up for the Elite Stage of Qualifying in Spring 2011.