Darren O’Dea knows latest Irish recruits will add to Ipswich Town’s team spirit

New signings Noel Hunt and Sean St. Ledger warming up before the match at Charlton on Saturday

New signings Noel Hunt and Sean St. Ledger warming up before the match at Charlton on Saturday

Ex-Ipswich Town defender Darren O’Dea believes the latest Irish recruits at Portman Road will only add to the sky-high team spirit within the club.

Former Republic of Ireland player and boss Mick McCarthy now has six capped Eire players at the club, recent arrivals Noel Hunt and Sean St Ledger joining Stephen Hunt, Daryl Murphy, David McGoldrick and Conor Sammon.

“I know a lot of the Ipswich boys through international and club football,” said O’Dea, who spent the 2010/11 season on loan at Portman Road.

“I got to know Noel at Reading and he is a very good friend of mine. I’ve played with Sean and Stephen regularly for Ireland over the years and I know several of the other Irish boys too.

“They are all top characters who will create a great dressing room environment. The team spirit is blatantly obvious when you watch Ipswich play at the moment. I don’t know Mick McCarthy that well, but everyone tells me how he creates that atmosphere of togetherness.”

He continued: “Noel had a really good time at Reading, got his move to Leeds and, for one reason or another, it’s not worked for him. Sometimes if a striker doesn’t score early on at a new club then it can affect their confidence. He had a couple of injuries too and he just couldn’t get things to click.

“Anyone who knows Hunty will know that he’s as honest as the day’s long though. He’s a good lad to have around the place and is one of the hardest workers in the game.

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“I was absolutely delighted to see him score on his debut and I hope he can now kick on. He puts so much into the game and deserves to get something back out of it.”

Noel Hunt will be ineligible to face his parent club, Leeds, when they visit Portman Road on Saturday. Second-place Town could go top with victory over the Yorkshire club, another that O’Dea spent a year on loan at.

“I really enjoyed my time at both Ipswich and Leeds,” said the 27-year-old. “To be honest, part of the reason I went to go and play abroad (for Canadian side Toronto FC and Ukrainian outfit Metalurh Donetsk) was because I’d been spoiled with the clubs I’d played for – Celtic, Ipswich and Leeds. I thought ‘if I can’t play for another club that big then I’ll go abroad’.”

A free agent since the summer, he added: “There are a few offers on the table from Championship clubs and from abroad. I’m hoping to tie something up in the next few days. It will probably be short-term until the New Year and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

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