Clacton’s Tom Eastman could be the next academy player to make the grade at Ipswich Town.

That’s the view of Blues boss Roy Keane, who believes the defender has the attributes to be a success at Portman Road.

Colchester-born Eastman has shone for the under-18s and reserves this season and will be hoping for a professional contract in the summer.

When asked about the 18-year-old’s prospects, Keane said: “He’s been excellent and will be training with us this morning.

“He’s a good lad with a good attitude.

“We talk about the enjoyment of working with the first-teamers but it’s great working with these young lads.

“Tom’s got a chance (of having a career in the game).

“He’s a decent player and very level-headed - a credit to his parents. I’ve got a lot of time for him.

“I don’t think he’ll be an energy-sapper in years to come.

“You can get some of those at your club, who sap your energy, but I don’t think he’s going to be one of them.

“I know people can change but credit to his family for that.”

Keane admitted Eastman could figure in his first-team plans before the end of the season and said: “Why not?

“He’s good on the ball, can head it and he’s scored a couple of goals in the last few weeks.

“I’ve been very impressed with him.”

Eastman will be hoping to land a professional contract in the summer.

“After what I’ve just said he’s got a chance,” said Keane.

“All the young boys must be thinking the same.

“We’re delighted with the young lads coming through and a lot of them have a good chance of getting contracts.

“But getting a contract is easy. Any half-decent player can get a contract.

“Getting in the first team is the hard part.

“There’s always something at stake when you walk out on a football pitch, whether it be in training or for a match.

“You’re playing for your future, for a contract, to get in the team, to stay in the team.

“It’s brilliant and you’ve got to have that hunger about you.”

Meanwhile, Keane says there is no progress in terms of Colchester’s Connor Wickham signing a deal at Portman Road.

The 16-year-old striker can sign a professional contract later this month, when he turns 17.

“I’ve kept out of it and left it with the owner and (chief executive) Simon (Clegg),” said the Ipswich boss.

“There’s certain stuff I like to focus on and other stuff that’s up to the club to take care of.

“But from a football point of view we’re delighted with Connor.

“He’s got a good attitude and seems a really nice kid. It’s very pleasing.

“If he’s looking for a role model maybe he should be looking at (Wayne) Rooney.

“But what would help him no doubt would be his first league goal. That might come tomorrow, of course. Who knows?”

For more from Keane’s pre-match press conference, see from 7am on Saturday.