It was fantastic to see Ipswich record a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest at Portman Road on Tuesday. The victory was made even sweeter as local boy Luke Hyam not only put in another encouraging display, but also scored his first goal for his hometown club.
The supporters have been crying out for Hyam to get more game time for nearly a year now as the young midfielder had previously struggled to break into the first team under Paul Jewell.
The former Wigan man did not seem to rate Hyam too highly as he only ever used the youngster when he had no other options.
Many fans will remember that back in January the team were playing particularly poorly (worse than usual, which is hard to imagine!) and were finding results hard to come by, just like they are now. As a result of these poor performances Jewell threw Hyam into the first team alongside Andy Drury in the centre of midfield to try something new, and it worked beautifully. The team were really stuck in a rut at the time but those two midfielders pulled them out of it and got them safely back into a mid-table position that we are all too familiar with.
Hyam’s form seemed to go unnoticed by his manager though and once the Tractor Boys were safe the 21-year-old did not feature as much under Jewell. It was a bit of a bizarre decision from the former Ipswich boss but he obviously did not think the youngster was ready to play every week in the first team.
Ever since that point the fans have been calling for Hyam to be reintroduced to the starting line-up and on Tuesday they got what they wanted. Admittedly the defensive midfielder only got his chance because Nigel Reo-Coker was ruled out through injury but it was pleasing to see nevertheless.
Hyam put in another solid shift much like he has done when he has come on from the bench in recent games. He has been a bright spark in what must be considered dark times for the club and once again it looks like he is starting to pull us away from the relegation zone.
It has to be said that the result on Tuesday was not completely down to Hyam though; it was just pleasing to see him perform well in a struggling team.
You have to also give credit to the Forest defence for their part in Ipswich’s win. After all, their defending was comical and they essentially gifted the home side an comfortable win. Of course it was an improvement from Ipswich but I was surprised to see a defensive performance from Forest that actually made our back line look solid for once.
That said, Guirane N’Daw was another player who played particularly well and his link up play with Hyam was crucial in the win. The two of them could well pull Ipswich into a mid-table position much like the combination of Hyam and Drury did around the same time last season.
Are the two players too defensive to play together though? Personally I don’t think they are and they are both versatile enough to adapt their playing style in order to make the system work.
The bigger question is; how highly does Mick McCarthy rate Hyam?
It seems like he has preferred using Reo-Coker over the youngster for his first few games in charge but that could now change. I would like to see Hyam starting more games and I firmly believe that he could potentially play a huge role in Ipswich’s survival campaign.