Keeper crisis is Arran's big chance

ARRAN Lee-Barrett has the chance of a lifetime to secure his long-term future at Portman Road.

Carl Marston

by Carl Marston

ARRAN Lee-Barrett has the chance of a lifetime to secure his long-term future at Portman Road.

Football League rules stipulate that Ipswich Town will not be able to bring in a new keeper on an emergency loan deal, despite loanee Asmir Begovic's recent return to Portsmouth and Richard Wright's current injury woes.

It was initially hoped that Town would able to recruit a new keeper, on an emergency week-to-week basis, even though the loan transfer window had closed last Thursday.

But Town would only be in a position to make such a case if they had NO fit professional goalkeepers on their books.

Most Read

Even though manager Roy Keane has lost both Begovic and Wright over the last 10 days, he will still have to make do with Lee-Barrett and fellow keeper Ian McLoughlin, who is a youth teamer with no senior experience at all.

Therefore Ipswich-born Lee-Barrett, who was third choice just over a week ago, is now well and truly in the box seat for this Saturday's trip to Bristol City, and indeed for the next four weeks.

Town have a new keeper available for when the January transfer window reopens - former Bohemians custodian Brian Murphy - but until then Lee-Barrett is set to be in goal for Town's next six fixtures, at the very least.

The situation will obviously be of concern to Keane. Although Lee-Barrett played 55 league games during his two-year stay at Hartlepool, the pressure is now really on the 25-year-old to help ease Town's plight in the lower reaches of the Championship.

Released by Hartlepool over the summer, Lee-Barrett was recruited by Town following the surprise retirement of Shane Supple in mid-August.

His short-term contract runs out in January, but it is December that could prove to be the most important month in his whole career.

He came on as a 25th minute substitute at Cardiff on Sunday, to make his Town debut, after Wright hobbled off with a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for four months.

Lee-Barrett, who had previously been an unused substitute for 12 games, had no chance with Peter Whittingham's first-half strike that put Cardiff 1-0 up.

But he had very little to do in the second half as goals from Jon Walters and Jon Stead earned a 2-1 win for Town.

One thing is for sure - Lee-Barrett will be wrapped up in cotton wool over the next few days, to ensure there are no niggles ahead of the trip to Ashton Gate.