From Portman Road to Poland for Keith Andrews

HE is the man credited with helping to save Paul Jewell’s job at Portman Road.

He skippered Ipswich and ended his hugely successful half-season loan spell with nine goals – a feat only bettered by Michael Chopra.

Now a season that was boosted by his time with the Blues will end with Keith Andrews battling it out with Modric, Xavi and Pirlo.

The 31-year-old is a certain starter for the Republic of Ireland when they kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against Croatia on Sunday evening before locking horns with European giants Spain and Italy.

But he will do so knowing that it was the spell in Suffolk that turned his season around.

Andrews said: “We are going there full of confidence. We have qualified from a tough group, come through a tough qualifier (a play-off win over Estonia) and we are certainly going to the Euros to come out of that group.

“I certainly count my lucky stars to see where I am playing now. I feel very lucky and privileged.”

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Andrews was left to rot in Blackburn’s reserves under Steve Kean before being rescued by Jewell who beat off the challenge of a number of divisional rivals to land the box-to-box midfielder.

His purple patch at Portman Road began with a goal on his full debut, scoring four in his first five games, before his brace helped Town recover from being 2-0 down at Barnsley to win 5-3 in a pulsating match that could have cost the Town boss his job after seven straight defeats.

Fans hoped Andrews, who was given the armband by the manager, would sign a permanent deal but while Jewell looked to get something tied up, the midfielder’s performances led to bigger clubs taking note and he signed a short-term deal with West Brom.

Now a free agent, Championship new boys Charlton Athletic and Scottish champions Celtic have been linked but Jewell will be monitoring the situation closely – even though the player will be hoping to secure a deal at the Hawthorns once a replacement for Roy Hodgson is found.