AFTER marking Jack Wilshere, Jonjo Shelvey and marshalling Josh Carson as Academy captain, released Ipswich Town defender Josh Meekings is determined he will not become the forgotten man.
The longest serving player at Portman Road, along with Great Cornard’s Jamie Griffiths - both having been with Ipswich since the age of eight - is optimistic about his future in the professional game, as he seeks a new club.
Following the news every second-year scholar dreads - that he wouldn’t be handed a professional contract - Meekings, who hails from Cavendish, is hell-bent on proving the club he loves were wrong to let him go.
But the outgoing under-18s captain, who roomed with Ipswich starlet Connor Wickham last season, bears no grudges and has told the Suffolk Free Press his dream is to one day be back at Portman Road, as a regular in the first-team.
“No matter what happens now I have to keep a positive mindset and keep doing what I am doing, it is not through lack of effort I did not get through,” said Meekings. “Hopefully I will be one of those people that drops down the leagues and makes a name for myself and comes back.
“It is still my dream to play for Ipswich and if I got that chance in the future I would definitely take it.”
The boyhood Ipswich fan, who went to school in Haverhill, is still training with the Championship club until the end of the season, with the agreement they will let him go on trial elsewhere if an opportunity arises.
Meekings, who had to go through a nervy training session led by first-team manager Paul Jewell ahead of anxiously waiting one-by-one to be called into his office later that day to hear their fate, said: “I went in there and he said it is the hardest part of his job to release young players and he was afraid it was not good news and they would not be giving me a one year contract.
“He just explained the reasons that there is a lot of players in my position (centre-back after being converted from right-back) at the minute and he did not think I am as ready as they are to kick on.”
But despite his heartbreak at learning he was not to be kept on at the club where he has made so many friends, Meekings added: “I think I have done all I can this season, I have given everything I can.
“I have no regrets. It is one of the biggest moments of my life as everything is changing now but it has been a good experience here and I have not got a bad word to say about the club. Everyone is so together here.”
Meekings, who has been steadfast in his decision not to employ an agent and represent himself along with his dad Steve, also revealed how the Ipswich coaches have put together a showreel DVD of his time at the club to email out to possible interested clubs.
His highlight of his time at Portman Road, apart from being under-18s captain, is clear in his mind: a shock cup triumph over holders Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup at Barnet this season, with Meekings having praise lavished on him for his mature performance alongside Tom Eastman at centre half.
Meekings, who has been cleaning Wales under-21 defender Troy Brown’s boots this season, added he hopes to one day prove himself as a senior captain of a Football League club.
“Definitely down the line I would love to be a captain somewhere. That bit of extra responsibility makes you concentrates that bit more,” he said.