Lee likes being up front on his own

ALAN Lee is looking forward to the freedom of the front line and scoring his first home goal for Ipswich Town.

ALAN Lee is looking forward to the freedom of the front line and scoring his first home goal for Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues have been lightweight in front of goal this season, netting just 18 at Portman Road in 18 attempts, and the joint-top scorers - Sam Parkin and Jimmy Juan - have managed just five apiece.

The £150,000 signing from Cardiff City banged in a brace at Southampton but has yet to get off the mark at home, and one against his old club Burnley tomorrow would go down well.

Lee said: “I want to score goals for Ipswich and it would be great to get one in front of the home crowd.

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“We still have the play-offs in sight, so winning is everything at this stage.”

The Galway-born Republic of Ireland international started his career at Aston Villa but joined the Clarets in a £200,000 move after impressing during a loan spell at Port Vale in 1999.

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Burnley won promotion to the modern-day Championship in 2000 as runners-up, although he managed just two league starts and 13 substitute appearances, without a league goal, in the 16 months he was at Turf Moor and eventually joined Rotherham.

Although he still has a house in Lancashire, Lee has no real affection for the Clarets, except through his friendship with coach Steve Davis.

Lee said: “I won't be trying any harder just because it is one of my old sides, because I want to go out and win and score against every club.

“I had a chat with Steve recently but neither of us gave anything away. We didn't talk too much about football.

“Burnley seem to have had a bit more money to spend over the past couple of years and Steve Cotterill has done well taking them up the table.

“Burnley was the first real club that I had week-to-week involvement playing and I was involved in their promotion, which was a good feeling.

“I signed for Stan Ternent, who did well for the first couple of years but it went a bit stale for him.”

Lee briefly partnered new Burnley loan signing Michael Ricketts, who was loaned to Cardiff from Leeds and scored on his debut at Plymouth last weekend for Burnley but, apart from him, Lee knows only Graham Branch from the old Clarets side.

With Danny Haynes out with an ankle injury, and no natural front man to start up alongside Lee, it is likely he will be the lone striker, with Darren Currie flitting behind him, which he does to good effect.

The prospect doesn't bother Lee - if anything he is looking forward to the responsibility.

He said: “I'm happy in that role if needed. I can mix it up and be adaptable. In a way, I enjoy playing up front on my own because you have more freedom. There is no confusion because you know you have to make a certain run or close down and not rely on anyone else.”

After a couple of horrendous years with injury - hernia and knee operations meant the Cardiff City fans never saw the best of him - Lee now has the demeanour of a man awakening from a nightmare.

His decision to join the Blues was not a difficult one to make and the 28-year-old could not be happier and more settled, especially now that he has bought a house in Essex.

Lee said: “The transition could not have been easier. Obviously the football has gone very well but, behind the scenes, it has been very good too.

“That is down to people at the club who have helped me settle in so easily.”

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