He was the older brother, but I would get a few slaps in! Ipswich Town’s Noel Hunt on brother Stephen

Noel & Stephen Hunt during the warm-up at Charlton

Noel & Stephen Hunt during the warm-up at Charlton

Noel Hunt has expressed his gratitude to brother Stephen, after rebuilding his career at Ipswich Town in recent weeks.

Thrown on the football scrapheap by Leeds United in the summer, Noel was given a route out of Elland Road and a chance to be reunited with his brother, at Portman Road, initially for a loan spell, in November.

A permanent move followed and Noel has already gone a long way to repaying boss Mick McCarthy’s faith in him, the striker scoring twice on his full debut at Millwall and setting up Daryl Murphy’s opener in the 3-2 defeat at Brighton nine days ago.

It’s all a far cry from his last few months at Leeds when he was out of the Whites’ first-team squad altogether.

“He (Stephen) was always on the other end of the phone telling me to keep cool and work hard,” said Noel.

“It’s very easy to go into a lull and go with the flow and not bother going into work but had I done that, I would not be here at Ipswich Town.

“I worked as hard as I could behind the scenes at Leeds to keep my fitness up and it’s nice to be back with Stephen.”

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The duo have already formed a good partnership on the pitch, with older brother Stephen having a hand in Noel’s two goals in the win at Millwall.

They have not been averse to a brotherly scrap in the past either, but will be fighting for each other on Saturday when struggling Wigan come to town.

“We were very competitive as kids, we’d have punch-ups, the lot. He was the older brother, but I would get a few slaps in,” laughed Noel.

“On the pitch, he knows the runs that I make and I know where he is going to put the ball. I think he set up something like nine of my 15 goals at Reading in our season together there.

“The deliveries he, along with the likes of Jay Tabb and Paul Anderson put in are great and it is up to me to get across defenders and get goals.

“You might call it a fairytale being back together, but we haven’t done anything yet. It will only be a fairytale if we win promotion.”

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