Andy Drury hails Grant Leadbitter as one of the best in the Championship

Middlesbrough v Ipswich: Andy Drury believes former Blues skipper Grant Leadbitter is one of the best midfielders in the Championship.

But that won’t stop the Town star doing all he can to get the better of his former team-mate when Ipswich face Middlesbrough tomorrow afternoon (3pm ko).

Drury admitted that he learnt a lot from playing with a Premier League midfielder in Leadbitter, below, after joining from non-league Luton Town.

But after finally proving to Paul Jewell he can be an integral part of the Town team, Drury is now looking to get one over on his good friend.

He said: “To be honest, I think Grant is one of the best midfield players in the league. I still speak to Grant and it will be good to go up against him. But, if selected, I will just play my natural game and I am sure Granty will do the same.

“I learned from Grant – I was on the bench a lot so I watched him and saw what he did in games. They have got some other good players as well as Granty.”

Leadbitter joined Middlesbrough in the summer after turning down the chance to sign a new contract at Ipswich, where he endured a love-hate relationship with supporters.

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But he has quickly become a key figure in Tony Mowbray’s side, which Drury has predicted will be among the play-off chasers at the end of the season.

Drury said: “I think they will be in the top six. They weren’t far off last season and they have made some good signings.

“I would imagine they would be up there but when we play at a high tempo and are organised and solid, we will be a match for anyone in this league.”

Speaking about his former skipper Leadbitter, Town boss Paul Jewell said: “We would have liked Grant to stay, but he was well within his rights to move on and there’s no animosity between myself and him or the club. We wish him well.

“He’s a good player that’s moved onto different things, but we’ve moved in a different direction too. I don’t think it was a money thing. He just felt he needed a change of scenery, he’s from up north and got married in the summer and in the end geographically it suited him.”