Keeper feels he’s made Ipswich Town first team this time on merit

ARRAN Lee-Barrett admits that it felt like a kick in the teeth when Marton Fulop arrived at Portman Road just before the start of the season.

But the 27-year-old has put that behind him to force his way back into the Ipswich Town first team, and he is set to be between the posts for today’s Championship game at Turf Moor against Burnley (kick-off 3pm).

One of a score of Town players fighting for their careers with his contract running out in June, the keeper who made 15 straight appearances last season after Richard Wright was injured after Asmir Begovic had gone back to Portsmouth, is expecting to hear his long-term fate in a month or so.

And it is more vital to him to take his current chance as he was born in Ipswich.

“In an ideal world I’d like to play at Portman Road every game for the next few years and enjoy life in the Premier League,” said Lee-Barrett, who walked into the Playford Road training ground in the summer of 2009 and asked for a trial.

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“When Marton last summer arrived it made it very difficult for me. It was like a bit of a kick in the teeth.

“I’ve nothing at all against Marton, but it meant I was behind two international goalkeepers with Brian Murphy also on the books.

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“There have been some frustrating times, and I went to see the manager - and it’s been tough not playing, and for a long time not being on the bench.

“The manager asked if I wanted to go on loan, and I said no.

“I made it plain that I want to stay at Ipswich.

“I have worked hard to prove what I can do, and it has paid off.

“It was great to play a series of games last season, but this time it feels that much better.

“Before I was in because Richard Wright was injured – this time I feel I’m in on merit.”

Lee-Barrett was a consistent performer in his previous first team stint and he says that he has no need to make flash saves to make his point.

Talking about his return to the side in the 2-0 win over Scunthorpe on March 19, Lee-Barrett said: “I was not too busy and made a few minor errors that I would not have been happy about if I was my 20th game on the trot.

“You need games to build confidence, but I don’t think I have to make flash saves to prove myself.”

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