Lee eyes up Irish return

ALAN Lee may be in an international wilderness but he is flourishing at club level.While Galway-born Lee would love to add to his 10 caps for the Republic of Ireland, his absence during the latter part of Steve Staunton's reign has meant more time improving his finishing - as a former Eire boss found to his cost.

By Derek Davis

ALAN Lee may be in an international wilderness but he is flourishing at club level.

While Galway-born Lee would love to add to his 10 caps for the Republic of Ireland, his absence during the latter part of Steve Staunton's reign has meant more time improving his finishing - as a former Eire boss found to his cost.

Mick McCarthy praised Lee, and his team-mates Pablo Counago and Danny Haynes, for their quality end products and he will understand the frustrations felt by the Irish striker.

Lee said: “It is a huge honour playing for my country but I want to be starting and not just going as a makeweight.

“The international breaks have been good for me and not being involved allows me time to work on fitness and finishing.

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“Ipswich is my No.1 priority in getting to the Premiership and it doesn't benefit me going away for two weeks spending time in a hotel room to play five minutes, if I play at all.”

Lee insisted he had no ill feeling towards Staunton but admitted he watched with frustration as the Republic's European campaign faltered.

He said: “In the last international there were a lot of crosses going in and I have been working on my heading and scoring from crosses, so I was thinking how I would like to have been there to take those opportunities.”

Lee's seventh goal of the season set Town on their way to the 3-0 victory but he admitted he wasn't always convinced Town would win the battle, which saw him escape a red card for an elbow into Joey Craddock's face.

He said: Wolves are a tough team with two tough centre halves who are big brutes. I felt it was harsh to get the yellow card because there was no malice intended, I was just looking to move in front of him.

“They way Wolves started it didn't look as if we were going to go on and win 3-0 but we came through the fist 20 minutes, imposed ourselves and we were worth it by the final whistle.”

Although it was the 10th home win in a row, Lee insisted they could not afford to get complacent at Portman Road, even if teams were arriving in fear.

He said: “I wouldn't say we are invincible at home. We stared poorly and it could have been a different game if they had not missed the penalty.

“But we certainly have a lot of confidence at home that has been lacking in previous years so anything that makes other teams sit up and approach our home games differently helps.

“If we had lost, we could have been in mid-table but instead we are fourth with a game in hand and 10 wins on the trot at home so that is impressive.”

Lee praised keeper Neil Alexander for giving them the platform to go on and win after saving a spot-kick for the second time in a week.

He said: “They have been two critical saves for us and that gave us the lift to go on. Fabian's back-pass dropped Neil in it rather than Neil giving it away.”

Lee is now backing Town to go on and end their miserable away run and feels he is a lucky omen against the Canaries.

He said: “I have never lost in an Ipswich shirt against Norwich. Apart from Hull away, where we didn't give a good account of ourselves and we deserve to lose that game, we have been very unlucky away at places like Burnley and QPR.

“We want to put an end to that poor run of results away and Norwich would be the ideal place to do that.”

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