Kid gloves treatment for keeper

IPSWICH Town will have to wrap up Arran Lee-Barrett in cotton wool ahead of this Saturday's trip to Bristol City.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town will have to wrap up Arran Lee-Barrett in cotton wool ahead of this Saturday's trip to Bristol City.

Town boss Roy Keane is on the look-out for a new keeper, which he should be able to secure on an emergency week-to-week basis, even though the transfer deadline for loan signings ended last Thursday.

But although the race is now on to sign a new keeper, as it stands Lee-Barrett is currently Town's only fit senior goalkeeper.

It's an incredible rise up the ladder for Lee-Barrett, who was third choice between Asmir Begovic and Richard Wright just over a week ago.

But loanee Begovic's return to his parent club Portsmouth, followed by Wright's unfortunate knee injury, sustained during the first half at Cardiff City, has suddenly thrust Lee-Barrett into the limelight.

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The Ipswich-born 25-year-old came on as a 25th minute substitute at Cardiff, following Wright's departure, and although he had no chance with Peter Whittingham's sizzling volley, he still ended up on the winning side thanks to second-half goals from Jon Walters and Jon Stead in a 2-1 away win.

Now Lee-Barrett is assured at least a place in Town's 18-man squad for the game at Ashton Gate - next in line is teenage youth teamer Ian McLoughlin, followed by 17-year-old Tottenham loanee Mirko Ranieri.

So whether Keane lands a new keeper or not - and the chances are that he will - Lee-Barrett's fitness is of paramount importance to Keane.

The ex-Hartlepool custodian, who made 55 league appearances for Pools, was released last summer and ended up at Town, on a short-term contract, following Shane Supple's retirement from professional football.

Following the win at Cardiff, Lee-Barrett said: “My contract is up in January. I don't know whether I'll get an extension. I just have to try and impress, and see what happens.”

Wright will be sidelined for four months, after scans revealed that he had suffered a partial tear to his cruciate ligament, following a collision with Cardiff striker Michael Chopra.

It is hoped that the ex-England keeper will make a complete recovery without the need for surgery.