Coach has every faith in Lee-Barrett
ARRAN Lee-Barrett is primed and ready to be Ipswich Town’s number one should Fulham need to activate David Stockdale’s 24-hour release clause this season.
That is the verdict of the club’s goalkeeping coach Malcolm Webster who has every confidence in the stand-by custodian, who played for Town in a behind-closed-doors training match against Gillingham yesterday.
Lee-Barrett has made 22 starts in his two years at the club and the current number two has impressed Webster, who has now been given a season-long contract at the club where he originally spent 10 years, largely under George Burley.
Webster said: “If David leaves tomorrow, Arran would play and I would have no fears about that. He has done it before and he did very well.
“He could step in and then you are only as good as your last game. For Blackpool, he travelled all the way up, prepared for the game – but then there is no game. That is the difficulty for anyone who is not in the team. When you are a number two, it is never an easy job.
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“We have kept him at the right level of fitness, the right level of everything to step into that team if he has to. But he is great to have in the squad, he is good round the place and he trains exceptionally hard.”
Stockdale could leave Portman Road with just a day’s notice as part of his season-long agreement with Fulham, whose number one Mark Schwarzer is 38 and has already played 12 times this season.
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Finding a long-term replacement for the 25-year-old is part of Webster’s remit after he returned to the club in July, initially on a month-by-month basis.
Clearly delighted by Town boss Paul Jewell’s decision to extend his contract, Webster said: “Ipswich has always been in my heart and it just felt like I was coming home.
“When I was offered the opportunity to work with Paul, who has been at a good level wherever he has been, you want to take it.
“The football club has always been good. I left when I had an opportunity to work under George (Burley) at Derby as I wanted to open my eyes towards other goalkeepers and other clubs.
“I enjoyed my time away as much as I enjoyed my time here, and it was successful. Even at my age, you want to get more experience.”