Lee is given a lift over leg problem

AN Ipswich podiatrist has helped Blues striker Alan Lee revive his international career after it was discovered he has one leg an inch shorter than the other.

By Derek Davis

AN Ipswich podiatrist has helped Blues striker Alan Lee revive his international career after it was discovered he has one leg an inch shorter than the other.

Suvanne Harding works with Lee one morning a week to ensure the Republic of Ireland international is suitably balanced and that, he hopes, will end the catalogue of injuries he has suffered during his career.

The 28-year-old had an operation during the summer to cure a long-standing groin problem, which was thought to be related to the disparity in leg size.

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Lee now has a special insert in his right boot to level him out and since getting back to fitness has had no recurrence of any injury problems. He has banged in three goals in the last three Town games and is back in the international fold.

Those goals, an injury-free run and an inner happiness at being at Portman Road, have contributed to a happy footballer.

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Lee said: “On and off the pitch I have never been more content.

“I had problems for so long with my groin and with my stomach that it just seemed I would never get an injury-clear run at it. It was a hugely frustrating time. But I had an operation during the summer and that seems to have taken care of it - part of it seemed to be down to the fact that they also discovered that I have one leg an inch longer than the other.

“Most people would have a leg about a centimetre longer but this is noticeably different.

“Now I'm running around in training like all the others, rather than being the guy who had to rest, take it easy.

“Touch wood, I feel great now, I have six or seven games under my belt with Ipswich, and I've never been in better shape.”

Richard Naylor suffered similar injury problems until it was discovered he also had one leg longer than another, and since then, with the help of an orthotic insert and special warm-up exercises, the defender has been a virtual ever-present.

Harding, from Gilmour Piper in Ipswich, has been instrumental in solving Lee's problems after being referred by Blues physiotherapist Matt Byard.

She said: “They were looking to get to the root of the problem. I saw straight away that Alan had one leg longer than the other and was able to start making the heel raisers needed and we built that up gradually.”

Lee is hoping he can now show what he is capable of - for club and country.

He said: “I had a couple of false dawns at Cardiff; I'd score a couple of goals, feel like I'd turned the corner, but I was always battling against poor form and injuries - if something went right, then something always went wrong.

“But I still always felt things could happen for me, that I'd achieve my potential, I just needed a break from those injuries. Things are great now, it's very nice to be involved in this squad, and even nicer to come into it feeling 100% fit.”

Irish boss Steve Staunton has been impressed with Lee who he saw score at Birmingham and the striker is in line to make his ninth senior appearance for the Republic after showing he can offer a wide range of skills up front.

“I suppose I bring something different, height being one factor, I'd certainly like to think so, and Steve has mentioned that to me. I just hope to score lots of goals in training between now and the Cyprus game, and put that image in Steve's mind. We'll see.

“But it's just very nice to be back, especially at a time when I'm feeling good. I've got three goals in my last three games for Ipswich, I've been playing well, so I'm feeling confident. Hopefully I will get the chance to show what I can do.”

The Irish play in Cyprus on Saturday and then take on the Czech Republic on Wednesday with both games European Championship qualifiers.

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