Blues boss sees a little of himself in Norris

ROY Keane is a huge fan of David Norris, probably because he sees a little bit of himself in his hard-working midfielder.

Carl Marston

ROY Keane is a huge fan of David Norris, probably because he sees a little bit of himself in his hard-working midfielder.

Certainly, when you listen to Keane speak about Norris, you can't help but think that Ipswich Town's boss is harping back to his own days as a general in the middle of the park.

Norris has been a revelation since his return from long-term injury, just before the turn of the year. In fact, the 28-year-old has not missed a league game since his quicker-than-expected return to the starting line-up, which didn't even include an appearance from the bench or an official outing for the Reserves.

Keane is fully aware that Town's upturn in results has coincided with Norris' presence in the team, and the Irishman is looking for more of the same at Peterborough this evening.

“There are lots of things I like about David,” insisted Keane.

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“There's his energy, enthusiasm and his tenacity. He can tackle, and I think potentially he can score more goals for us. He's building up a relationship with Grant (Leadbitter) at the moment.

“He does a lot of the ugly stuff of the game, like the other night (against QPR) when he sprinted about 20 or 30 yards to get a block. He does the things that you need to do to win football matches. I didn't know too much about David when I took the job.

“But he's been a big loss to us, having got injured in the first game of the season.

“We missed him for the first three or four months, and it's no coincidence that the results have picked up since he's got fit.

“It's full credit to the boy. You find out about players when they are injured and he's been absolutely brilliant.

“We've thrown him straight back in, whereas some players need six or seven weeks to get back into it.

“He covers a lot of ground, but I want to go easy because he'll be after a new contract soon!” added Keane wryly.

With the exception of a pre-Christmas behind-closed-doors friendly fixture, and 90 minutes as an unused substitute at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, Norris had precious little in the way of competitive build-up before his return for the 3-0 home win over QPR.

But he emerged unscathed from that game, and has not looked back since.

Norris sat out the FA Cup defeat at Southampton, so the only defeat that Town have suffered with the ex-Plymouth man in the side has been the 2-0 reverse at Preston on January 30.

“It's a big, big plus to have him back in the team. If he was fit from the start of the season, we wouldn't be in the position that we are in now,” said Keane.