PRE-season friendlies kick off and a striker scores two goals.

Michael Chopra's debut against FC Eindhoven rightly grabbed the headlines but his feat was actually repeated by THREE other Ipswich Town footballers this week.

Take a bow Jack Simmons, Jack Marriott and Caolan Lavery (who actually scored three goals for the Blues in 36 hours).

I'm told Chopra and Co have been strenuously put through their paces in the Netherlands, while still finding time for a spot of frolicking on bicycles and, randomly, wash bins. 

A lot closer to home, the spotlight fell on Russell Osman's Under-18s, aided in Wednesday night's win at Haverhill Rovers by out-of-favour Shane O'Connor and Ronan Murray.

The pair, who both seem likely to go out on loan in the next few weeks, were forced to leave their passports at home and train with the youngsters but I have heard only complimentary things about the attitude of Messrs O'Connor and Murray. If they do end up on loan, a lower league club would be lucky to have them.

As for the Under-18s, their 2-1 win at Rovers was my first chance to witness the hopeful stars of tomorrow.

Coming just a day-and-a-bit after the youngsters beat Leyton Orient 6-3, it was a hard-fought match against a plucky Haverhill side. In truth, Town really only shined for the last 25 minutes of the first half, getting over a shaky start before any chance of a decent second half was shattered by the typical glut of substitutions.

Still there were some who rose above the somewhat ordinary. Although Town always had the edge, it was their defenders that most impressed me.

In the heart of the first half defence, Jide Maduako strutted his stuff in the manner of a young Rio Ferdinand (though with a slightly larger hairstyle than the one seen in this photo).

If that is the case, there is probably an accident waiting to happen, with the confident centre back happy to have the ball at his feet. But these are young lads and accidents will be made - and then learnt from. Elliott Scotcher made a monstrous error which should have given Haverhill a first half lead but credit the lad, he recovered and looked largely assured thereafter.

To the left of them was David October, the seasonal flavour continuing on the other side with Tom Winter, and the left-back was arguably the pick of the bunch, linking up well Joe Whight who set up Lavery's first goal with a peach of a pass.

Lavery obviously deserves credit for a productive week while Murray and O'Connor, playing centre midfield, at times showed their class.

But arguably the pick of the bunch came with the second half introduction of 17-year-old Gunnar Thorsteinsson from Iceland (below). Signed earlier this month, the blonde-locked youngster looked a calm presence at the back alongside his new team mates and displayed a touch which proved he is equally adept when pushed into midfield.

After the match, and all huddled together tucking into their post-match meal, you realise these are just ordinary young boys living a dream - and a precarious one at that.

There was enough talent on show to suggest that many will have a future in the game and their journey promises to be an interesting one.

After my first Under-18s match, but certainly not my last, it is definitely one I am looking forward to being part of.