Leeds’ loss is our gain when it comes to Noel Hunt, says Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Noel Hunt slides into his celebration after scoring Ipswich's second at Millwall. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Noel Hunt slides into his celebration after scoring Ipswich's second at Millwall. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy still can’t quite believe that he was able to add Noel Hunt to his list of free transfer success stories.

The Irish forward had his contract torn up by former employers Leeds early in the new year, the Blues moving quickly to snap up the experienced 32-year-old on a free transfer following his encouraging loan spell just prior to Christmas.

Since then he’s enjoyed two impressive starting appearances, scoring twice on his full debut – the 3-1 win at Millwall – and providing an assist, as well as a goal-line clearance, in last Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat at Brighton.

It’s been a dramatic turnaround for the former Reading man who, having won promotion with the Royals in 2012, found himself inexplicably ostracised from the first team picture at Elland Road not long after a 2013 move.

“I wonder what other people didn’t see in him which meant we could get him for nothing,” said McCarthy. “I think his performances, even taking away the goals, have been very, very good.

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“Like his brother (Stephen) he’s just a great character to have around. They’re completely nuts! It’s great, I love it.”

Noel Hunt is yet another example of a player that has seemingly been written off by other clubs only to be reinvigorated following a switch to Portman Road.

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Christophe Berra (Wolves), Daryl Murphy (Celtic), Stephen Hunt (Wolves), David McGoldrick (Nottingham Forest) and Jonathan Parr (Crystal Palace) were all let go for nothing, with Murphy now the Championship’s leading scorer with 18 goals, Berra arguably the best centre-back in the division and McGoldrick having been the subject of a £7.5m bid from Leicester City back in the summer.

McCarthy’s current squad consists of just two players that cost transfer fees – recent recruit Freddie Sears a cut-price £100,000 from Colchester United and £10m-rated left-back Tyrone Mings a £10,000 addition from non-league club Chippenham Town.

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