Lisbie ready to ruffle some feathers

NORWICH City, away, would not have been Kevin Lisbie's first choice for the opening day fixture of the new season.

Carl Marston

NORWICH City, away, would not have been Kevin Lisbie's first choice for the opening day fixture of the new season.

In fact, the short trip into Norfolk was rock bottom of Lisbie's wish-list for first day challenges.

The 30-year-old goal-poacher returned to Colchester United at the start of this week, on a season-long loan from East Anglian neighbours Ipswich Town, just a year after his permanent move in the other direction.

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He is set to start at Norwich today, and so is gearing himself up for a hot reception from the Carrow Road faithful, who last saw him in the blue-and-white of Town last April.

In a blood-and-thunder local derby at Portman Road, which put another nail in Norwich's relegation coffin, Lisbie earned a fiercely-contested penalty to send Town on their way to a 3-2 victory.

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With the score at 1-1, referee Neil Swarbrick adjudged that Lisbie had been fouled by Canaries keeper David Marshall in the box, so allowing Dos Santos Giovani to regain the lead for Town.

The mere fact that Lisbie is on Ipswich's books, and was the villain of the piece (in their eyes) in that last East Anglian derby, should ensure a rough ride for the U's newest recruit today.

“If I had to a pick a game NOT to mark my return, then it would have been Norwich City away!” admitted Lisbie.

“But I'm more than excited to be back at Colchester.

“Last time I was here, we got relegated, so this time it will be fitting if I can help the team to win promotion this season.

“In fact, I can't see why this team can't be promoted to the Championship this season.”

Lisbie looks set to start alongside target man Clive Platt this afternoon, not least because club record signing Steven Gillespie will miss the start of the campaign due to his ongoing hamstring injury.

Two years ago, Lisbie helped himself to 17 goals in a struggling Colchester team that finished rock bottom of the Championship.

That was his first extended sortie into real life outside the Premier League - he had spent all his previous 12 seasons at Charlton in the top flight - although he had stints on loan at Gillingham, Reading, QPR and today's hosts Norwich earlier in his career.

Lisbie's excellent year at Layer Road earned a move to Ipswich Town last summer, on a three-year deal for a fee of �600,000. He still had two years to run on his previous contract at Colchester, and the Essex club had offered him a new deal before his departure.

But it didn't quite work out for the Jamaican at Portman Road last term. He started just 24 of the 46 league games, mustering just six goals.

That's why he is extra-keen to resume normal service with the U's.

“I'm not too big to be playing in this division,” insisted Lisbie, with reference to his drop into the third tier of the Football League.

“Dropping down into League One was never an issue for me. In fact, League One is a really strong division, with lots of big clubs.

“I only knew that a move to Colchester was possible a week before the deal was agreed. Beforehand, there had been a lot of paper talk, about Colchester being interested, but it was only talk.

“Then suddenly the talk turned into interest. I don't know who started it off, but I'd like to thank them for it!

“I have not got on with the gaffer (Roy Keane). I have five kids, but he had wanted me to move down into the area. Of course I'm still contracted to Ipswich, and if it doesn't work out here, then I'm still a Championship player.

“Of course the scenery has changed a lot from two years ago, with the old Layer Road ground and now this new stadium.

“This is a proper stadium, and it's up to the players to make it happen. The ground is excellent, and so are the fans, so it's down to us to get the results.

“This is the perfect place for me to come back to. There were other options, but this is the right place for me.

“It's important that I am also here for the year, and not just a few weeks. I'm 30 and I want to be settled.

“Several of the lads are still here, like Clive Platt and Scott Vernon. I know how they play, and they know my game,” added Lisbie.

In addition to fellow striker Gillespie, the U's will also be without defender Paul Reid, who is still on the long road to recovery following a broken knee cap sustained at Huddersfield in early March.

U's boss Paul Lambert said: “Norwich City away will be a great test for us. They are one of the favourites to go up.

“I know Bryan Gunn (Norwich manager) a little, because of the Scottish connection. He took over at a difficult stage last season, trying to keep them in the Championship.

“I just can't wait to get going this season,” concluded Lambert.

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