ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD TOWN CORRESPONDENT MATT PLUMMER DELIVERS HIS WEEKLY THOUGHTS ON THE NEWS FROM PORTMAN ROAD: Connor Wickham is on fire at the moment – and the greater part of me is loving every minute of it.
What Ipswich fan wouldn’t enjoy seeing one of their starlets hit top form, scoring a wonder goal against Sheffield United and then a glorious hat-trick in Tuesday’s 6-0 demolition of Doncaster?
It’s been a joy and even aside from those obvious highlights, it’s just great seeing him back in the team and playing well – something that rarely happened under Roy Keane.
But amid the pride and euphoria lurks genuine worry and concern.
His recent fireworks have again raised the obvious question – how much longer can Town keep him at Portman Road?
For what it’s worth, Wickham is under contract and recently signed an extension, keeping him at the club until 2013.
He clearly wants to stay and it goes without saying that boss Paul Jewell hopes to fend off big-gun vultures like Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle.
But while all of the above eases my anxiety to some extent, I still can’t help worrying that money, as is so often the case, talks.
Will Ipswich be able to resist a multi-million pound bid from one of the Barclays Premier League giants?
I honestly don’t know but can only hope that if and when he moves on it’s later rather than sooner.
Understandably, Jewell was keen not to focus solely on Wickham, in his post-match press conference on Tuesday.
But it was inevitable that many of the questions, and subsequent headlines, were about the former Colchester schoolboy.
“If he was as good looking as me he’d have everything,” joked the Blues boss, rightly relaxed and delighted after watching his side win 6-0.
Of course, Jewell was right to sing the praises of all his players – not just Wickham.
Tuesday’s win was exactly one calendar month on from his first game in charge, when Ipswich lost 2-1 at Millwall.
So much has changed in that short space of time.
Town are now unbeaten in five league games and look revitalised, after pocketing 13 points from a possible 18.
And in terms of performances, they are almost unrecognisable from the seemingly frightened, suppressed group of players going through the motions under the previous regime.
Long may it continue and long may Connor Wickham enjoy the limelight – as long as it’s for his exploits with Ipswich.