WITHIN the timid persona of a young man lies an exciting player destined for a big future in the game.

Ipswich Town's Flynn Downes has hit the ground running in League One.

As the season reaches a quarter of the way through, his important role in the team becomes ever more noticeable alongside veteran midfielder Cole Skuse.

The academy product is one of the first names on manager Paul Lambert’s teamsheet and nobody would question it with his combative displays in the centre of midfield.

It’s fair to say Town came back from the international break a little disjointed.

Their 2-0 defeat to Accrington Stanley in front of the Sky cameras last Sunday, coupled with the disappointment of Wednesday’s dismal showing against Rotherham United, where the Millers defeated the Blues by the same score, were unrecognisable from the side that supporters have been accustomed to during the early campaign.

Downes played no part in those games due to a hip injury suffered on England Under-20 duty.

But is Town’s recent blip a coincidence or is it down to the impact he has on this current side?

Evidence of the latter is starting to add up.

It was Downes’ man-of-the-match performance on the opening day of the season that led to Town’s first win at Burton Albion.

It was him again at Portman Road, with a driving run into the box that parted the Shrewsbury Town defence and his diving header from a well-timed cross sealing the points in a 3-0 victory.

Not forgetting his countless, strong challenges to break up play in the middle of the pitch, getting Town back on the ball in hard-fought one goal victories over MK Dons, Gillingham and Fleetwood Town respectively.

These are especially interesting passages because they capture the nature which has defined Downes since he first appeared on the scene in 2017, under former manager Mick McCarthy.

You would be forgiven for forgetting that the midfielder is still only 20, with his whole career in front of him.

To some, he remains under the radar – gifted, tough in the challenge and prone to losing his head (his pre-season headbutt testifies this).

However, nobody can argue that his stock has risen considerably since returning from his loan spell with Luton Town in 2018.

His move to the Hatters was a success for all concerned; the club achieved promotion to League One and Downes played his part.

He arrived in Bedfordshire a boy and returned to Suffolk a man.

A defensive midfield player by trade, what many don’t realise is that he possesses tremendous craft.

What makes Downes a rare player is what exists within these small snippets; the ability to attract defenders and draw them in, driving runs forward and the capacity to see surrounding space, releasing passes at the right moment, bringing in his more attack-minded colleagues into the game.

Actually, what’s really intriguing about Downes – given his aesthetics and the perception fans have created – is that he’s far more of a continuity player than assumed.

He’s not a David Silva or a Kevin De Bruyne but he’s still a conductor of moves. He pushes his team-mates into wide positions, he alters the speed and direction of attacks and, unusually for someone of his abilities, he’s a consistently reliable passing option.

The hope is that these qualities become more obvious as he gets older, because in my opinion, there is no doubt that one day Downes could go on to bigger and better things, potentially providing future value to his country.

But more importantly, the bigger hope is that his dynamism and cavalier craft are to be seen for a while longer yet in a blue shirt; writing his name into Ipswich Town folklore for years to come.