Magilton: I won't rush Rhodes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
12.55 PM

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton today insisted that rising teenage striking star Jordan Rhodes will not be rushed.

And fellow Town striker Dean Bowditch, who made such a big impact when he came on for his Blues debut against Norwich City when just 16 years old, will endorse Magilton's stand.

IPSWICH Town manager Jim Magilton today insisted that rising teenage striking star Jordan Rhodes will not be rushed.

And fellow Town striker Dean Bowditch, who made such a big impact when he came on for his Blues debut against Norwich City when just 16 years old, will endorse Magilton's stand.

The free-scoring Rhodes, 18, will be in the Ipswich squad for Saturday's Coca-Cola Championship game at lowly Scunthorpe, but it remains to be seen whether he is named on the bench or left out of the final 16.

Town supporters have been willing Bowditch to re-find the form he showed when having a hand in two goals against the Canaries, and a hat-trick against Watford in his first Portman Road start.

But it has not happened and Bowditch, who is currently nursing a groin problem, has had a number of loan moves.

Bowditch said: “I sometimes find myself pondering 'Did I have too much, too young?'

“At the time it was fantastic and it was all on a plate for me.

“But I was probably too young - mentally I wasn't strong enough and physically I was way off the pace.

“If my chance had come in the last couple of years I would have probably done a bit better.”

Now 21, Bowditch has made a total of 81 Town appearances and scored nine goals failing to play one first team game this term.

Bowditch has been out on loan to Burnley, Wycombe and Brighton, and this season Northampton as well.

Some Town fans would like to see Rhodes brought in now, but he is going to be protected with Magilton using him wisely for the immediate future.

The Town boss said: “Jordan has come on a lot this season and I think a lot of him.

“But he has got to be protected and will be brought on slowly but surely.”

West Ham are looking after 18-year-old striker Freddie Sears in the same way. Like Rhodes he has been knocking in goals for fun in the reserves and Hammers fans have been calling for him to be included.

But West Ham manager Alan Curbishley delayed his debut until he was used as a match-winning substitute last weekend.

Rhodes has now overtaken Bowditch in the striker pecking order, and he is bound to add to his two substitute appearances before the campaign is over. But Magilton will ensure he doesn't suffer early burn-out.

Two other Town players are back at Portman Road having treatment. Matt Richards is back from his loan at Brighton to have attention to a hamstring problem, while Jaime Peters has returned from Yeovil for treatment to an ankle ligament sprain.

Striker Shefki Kuqi, who if all goes well could be back in a fortnight, admits he thought the worst after sustaining a hamstring strain on Saturday.

“I felt this sudden pain in the back of my leg,” he said. “I tried to get up and walk on it, but it was no good.

“When I was being carried off and in the dressing room after the game I thought the worst.

“I did some deep water running on Monday and it's improving all the time.”

What do you think? Is Jordan Rhodes ready for the first team? Write to Sports Desk, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or email starsport@eveningstar.co.uk. Please include your full name and address.