Gunn: Jeers will not floor star man Lee
David Cuffley City striker Alan Lee will thrive on the East Anglian derby atmosphere - even if he is the number one target for Ipswich Town fans' venom when he faces his old club.
City striker Alan Lee will thrive on the East Anglian derby atmosphere - even if he is the number one target for Ipswich Town fans' venom when he faces his old club.
That's the view of manager Bryan Gunn as the Canaries bid to strengthen their Championship survival prospects by completing the double over their biggest rivals at Portman Road on Sunday (12.45pm).
Gunn summed up his opinion of the 30-year-old Lee's importance in the fixture when he said: “I'd certainly much rather have him in our side than playing against us.”
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And he expects Lee, set for his fifth appearance for the club since arriving on loan from Crystal Palace, to handle the rough reception likely to be in store for him south of the border.
“I think he does thrive on that - he's that type of player. It's water off a duck's back and he won't let that affect him,” said Gunn.
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“He's only recently left Ipswich so a lot of their players will know him and I'm sure they're not looking forward to coming up against someone who they know will close them down, challenge, fight and scratch for every loose ball going.
“I'm sure that will have some of the Ipswich Town defenders thinking tomorrow night, when they go to bed, that they're in for a tough game next day - if he's selected.
“It's a big day for Alan and I'm sure that there will be a lot of noise aimed in his direction - and I hope it will be the Norwich City fans celebrating and singing his name even louder by the end of the game.”
Gunn said Lee had very quickly banished any doubts supporters may have had about his commitment to the Canary cause.
“He's come in and there were questions asked about his past loyalties but knowing the lad and the character he is, I had no doubt in my mind he would overcome any potential problems,” said Gunn.
“As soon as he put on that yellow shirt for the first time and we saw his contribution in the Birmingham City match, we knew we had a player who would certainly run his heart out for the yellow and green shirt.
“That is something the rest of the lads have taken to as well. They know now they have someone up front, a striker who will chase down lost causes and turn bad balls into good balls and good balls into even better balls.
“That's what you get from Alan and, with his personality around the place, he has blended in with all the different players and age groups in the dressing room, which is important when you are taking players in.”
Lee was booked for the third time in his four games for City in Monday's 2-0 win over Watford and admitted he had to “bite my lip” in the closing stages, when he had a goal disallowed. But Gunn applauded his committed approach.
He said: “He was high, he got caught up in a couple of little scenarios with the referee. He was obviously disappointed when he scored his goal and looked round and the flag was up, but his overall contribution to the result and team effort on the day was immense.
“You look at him sometimes and maybe after an hour you think he's looking tired, but he just finds a second and third wind from somewhere. We then left him on for the full match and in the 92nd minute he was in our penalty box heading a corner away. That type of commitment is crucial and I'd certainly much rather have him in our side than playing against us.”