Hotshot Noel Hunt proves he can ease Ipswich Town’s striker shortage
Two-goal hero Noel Hunt is confident he can ease the pressure on a depleted Town side, following Saturday’s 3-1 win at struggling Millwall.
Hunt scored two poacher’s goals in the opening 14 minutes, on his first start for the club, to fire Town back into second place, following Derby County’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. Jonathan Parr scored the third to wrap up victory.
The 32-year-old has now scored three goals for the Blues, including his last-gasp winner at Charlton, on his debut, in November.
The striker was given the nod on Saturday, ahead of new signing Freddie Sears, with David McGoldrick sidelined with an injury he sustained in the FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Wednesday evening. Teddy Bishop, Dean Gerken, Luke Hyam and Cole Skuse also missed Saturday’s game.
Manager Mick McCarthy hopes McGoldrick will be fit to return to the fold at Brighton on Wednesday, but Hunt’s impact may have alleviated any urgent need to rush the former Nottingham Forest striker back.
“We have got to be able to do what the manager asks of us and if that means going in goal, I will go in goal,” joked Hunt.
“But it was nice to get up-front and play with Murph, he played a big part in my two goals.”
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Asked if he would prefer to play as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation, Hunt added: “Yeah, I have played there all my career and it was good to get a couple of goals, but I am sure Murph, or whoever else had been presented with the chances, would have scored them too.”
Hunt’s last start before Saturday’s clash was, ironically, at Millwall, for Leeds, on the opening day of the season.
Then, the former Reading man was substituted early in the second half as the Lions prevailed 2-0, but it was a different story on Saturday for the striker, who paid tribute to assistant manager Terry Connor.
“Terry has worked a lot on my finishing, we had a good chat about goals yesterday. It was nice to give something back,” said Hunt.
“A couple of chances did not fall my way and David Forde made a good save. I’ll take two though, I’m not greedy.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy refused to be drawn on stories linking Town with a loan move for Leeds striker Billy Sharp.
The 28-year-old made a substitute appearance in the Whites’ 1-1 draw against Birmingham on Saturday, but it is thought discussions have taken place between the two clubs over a possible deal.
When asked about Sharp on Saturday, McCarthy said: “Unless I said we were doing something with him (Sharp) I wouldn’t comment because he’s Leeds’ player.”