McCarthy believes he’s signed two good Championship players in Noel Hunt and Sean St Ledger

Leeds United forward Noel Hunt

Leeds United forward Noel Hunt - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy believes he has signed two good Championship players in Sean St Ledger and Noel Hunt.

Ex Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger has joined Ipswich Town on a one-month contract.

Ex Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger has joined Ipswich Town on a one-month contract. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Versatile defender St Ledger, 29, was released by Leicester City in the summer and has signed a one-month deal as a free agent. Forward Hunt, 31, has joined on loan from Championship rivals Leeds United until January, becoming reunited his older brother Stephen – a team-mate of his at Reading – at Portman Road.

“There are Championship players and good Championship players – I think they come into that second bracket to be honest,” said McCarthy, whose fourth-placed side take on Charlton at The Valley in a televised clash on Saturday (12.15pm).

“Sean St Ledger played nearly every game when (Giovanni) Trapattoni was Republic of Ireland manager. If that’s not a ringing endorsement of a defender, from an Italian, then I don’t know what is.

“Maybe a bit like Hunty (Stephen Hunt) last year he found himself in a position where he was promised things, turned things down and, coming up to Christmas, he found himself without a job.

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“I think he did have an injury last year that kept him out for a long time, but he played on Monday night (for Town’s Under-21s), he looked fit and he’ll play again for the 21s at Millwall tomorrow because I think he needs another game. Then he’ll be ready to go.

“We’ve been operating with only six defenders all season so it was important to get some extra cover heading into a busy period.”

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On Hunt’s arrival, the Blues boss joked: “Yes, the Hunt sisters are back together! (having played together at Reading). They’ve been getting pelters today the pair of them.

“I think it was here actually that Noel fractured his back. He’s a had a bit of trouble since with his hamstring and a couple of things, but he’s been fit since March and not had a look in (at Leeds).

“He’s played the last six 21 games for Leeds, I believe. And when he’s fit then he’s a real handful. I’m delighted to get him down here.

“I would say Noel Hunt can certainly do the 4-3-3 with three strikers, there’s no question of that. He’s experienced, a very good Championship player and who knows what will happen between now and Christmas?

“We’re okay at the minute, but all of a sudden you can get a couple of injuries and be scratching around. Listen, you can’t have enough strikers I don’t think.”

Why does McCarthy think Hunt has not featured fro Leeds since the opening few weeks of the campaign?

“Part of the reason might be that someone announced he was on 25 grand a week,” said the Blues boss. “Apparently he can’t walk down the street in Leeds because they turn on him. That’s not helping at all.

“He wasn’t actually anyway, he was on 24,950! I’m joking, he’s nowhere near that.

“I think it the new owner who said that before the takeover and it’s had a really detrimental affect on his career at Leeds.

“I saw him play against Leicester in one of the first games of last season and he was outstanding. If we get him to that form, and let’s hope we can, we’ve got ourselves a very good player.”

McCarthy, who confirmed Hunt will go straight into the squad for the game against Charlton, added: “I asked him ‘are you as bonkers as your brother?’ He said ‘I don’t know’. I said ‘well if you’re as mad as Hunty we’ll love you because we love him’.

Meanwhile, the Blues boss confirmed that he was all set to sign Chelsea’s teenage midfielder John Swift on loan this week after he impressed in training.

“We would have taken him because we were really pleased with him,” said the Blues boss. “he just got a knock and we don’t know how long he’ll be. It’s not worth the risk – for him and us. It migth be one we look at again in the future.”

– See tomorrow’s EADT and Ipswich Star for all the latest Blues news.

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