Lee: Earnshaw 'will be great success'

RICK WAGHORN New Ipswich Town hero Alan Lee is convinced that City new signing Rob Earnshaw will be a smash hit at Carrow Road - only not during the derby, please.


New Ipswich Town hero Alan Lee is convinced that City new signing Rob Earnshaw will be a smash hit at Carrow Road - only not tomorrow, please.

"Earnie will score goals in any division if you give him the chances," said the 28-year-old Town striker, whose recent switch from Cardiff City to Suffolk got off to a flying start with his double strike in a 2-0 win at Southampton.

It is, however, those three injury-plagued years at Ninian Park that have given Lee the perfect insight into the Canaries' new £2.75 signing as Earnshaw prepares to make his debut in the heat of an East Anglian derby battle.

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"Earnie was West Brom's top scorer last season, so his move from there couldn't have had anything to do with a lack of ability," said Lee.

"Reading between the lines, it seems he wasn't enjoying his time at West Brom. He will be glad to have moved on and will relish the fresh start. I am having a new lease of life at Ipswich and it will be the same for him at Norwich."

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In theory, the pair should have been a dream double act, only, in practice, for Lee's injury run and Earnshaw's big money move to West Bromwich Albion to wreck Lennie Lawrence's plans.

"I think Lennie Lawrence's idea was that we would be the classic big guy, little guy, partnership. I remember Cardiff playing Rotherham when I was there and they had two smaller strikers and that was when they came in and signed me," said Lee, who opted for a £850,000 switch to South Wales ahead of a possible move to Carrow Road that summer.

"We got on well but we didn't have a great deal of time to work on the sort of understanding that some strikers have. We only had the one season together and I must have missed about half of it through injury.

"But Cardiff fans lost a real hero when they sold him and I think the club suffered. Not just because he wasn't around to score goals, but because the supporters loved him so much and they couldn't identify with the club the same way after he'd gone."

Suffice to say, Lee knows exactly what Earnshaw will bring to the party tomorrow.

"Earnie is exceptionally quick and he plays on the shoulders of the opposing defenders. I'm sure Richard Naylor and Jason De Vos know all about him, but we'll have a chat before the game.

"You see him on television, scoring goals and celebrating with his gymnastics, but away from football he's quite shy, although he has a dry wit."

It is not, of course, the only Cardiff reunion tomorrow will bring. Lee said he was actually friendlier with Peter Thorne - even if he never quite managed to spend much time with him in first-team action.

"Peter had a lot of injury problems that held him back or we would have played a lot more games together.

"But we are the best of pals. Peter and his girlfriend tried to get me into surfing and gave me lessons, but they were wasting their time.

"I just didn't take to it. In fact, I had trouble just standing up on the board and they were right to give up on me."

As for tomorrow's clash, it was one-time Wroxham striker Paul Warne who first warned Lee as to what it all really means.

"Warney used to talk about it when we were at Rotherham together but you don't really get a feel for it until you get out there and experience it for yourself.

"Both teams need three points, if not to get into the play-offs then to send out a message that they are a team to look out for next season."

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