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Hunt: Tremendous Togetherness
Wednesday, 14th Jan 2015 06:00

Town midfielder Stephen Hunt has hailed the Portman Road team spirit as the best he has encountered in a career that took him to Crystal Palace, Brentford, Reading, Hull and Wolves before coming to Suffolk last season.

Hunt said: “The togetherness has been tremendous for 16 or 17 months, however long I’ve been here. I can genuinely say we don’t have one bad egg in the whole squad and everyone is pulling in the right direction.

“Even if you think you’re better than the guy playing in front of you, you don’t show it and you support him and wish him well.

“How rare is that? I honestly don’t know. You’ll have to ask around because it’s not for me to say who’s a bad egg or not at other clubs.

“All I know is that we have a great bunch of lads and of all the teams I’ve played for it is the soundest group of players I’ve played with. It helps coming into work every day and we have a great living anyway so it’s great.”

Hunt is set to make his eighth start of the season against Southampton in Wednesday’s FA Cup third round replay and although he is approaching the twilight of his career he is no less enthusiastic now about the world’s oldest knockout tournament than he was when starting out.

He made a total of 11 appearances in the competition – more than at any of his other clubs – for Brentford and recalled: “There have been a few bits and pieces as far as the FA Cup is concerned.

“I remember 12 years ago I scored a goal at Griffin Park for Brentford to win a third round tie against Derby, who were a lot higher than Brentford at the time. Obviously, you get a buzz from that and I have always thought the FA Cup is special.”

Hunt’s overall FA Cup record shows six goals in 25 games, including three in seven for Reading, the club where he played alongside younger brother Noel, a recent arrival at Portman Road on loan and then, having returned to Leeds and had his contract terminated by mutual consent, snapped up last week on a free transfer until the end of the season, although ineligible tonight.

Stephen said: “It will be difficult for him with Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick up front and he’ll have to wait his turn.

“He’s been coming on wide right and trying to make an impression. He’s keen to get some time but so are Conor Sammon and Badger [Balint Bajner]. Just because he’s my brother doesn’t mean I want him to play more than anyone else – I want everyone to be doing well.

“With us both being at the same club again it makes it easier for our families if they want to come to games, although with us getting older they seem to come to fewer and fewer games anyway.”

Hunt will probably again line up against another ex-Reading colleague in Southampton striker Shane Long, who cost them £12 million from Hull back in the August transfer window and was in the Saints’ starting line-up for the 1-1 draw at St Mary’s 10 days ago.

He added: “Shane is very direct as a player and his movement surprised me at their place. He played wide right and I wouldn’t say it’s his strongest position because up through the middle he’s better. His movement was very good and obviously he’s learning as he goes along.

“He’ll say he has played his fair share of games. Pelle is playing in the middle of three up front so Shane is probably adapting to playing on the right.

“It might take him a bit of time to adapt but from what I saw in the first game his movement is getting better. He’s better through the middle but he played well on the right at their place and is a player who carries a threat.”

Finally, Hunt would not be drawn on the size of the gap between Premier League and Championship. He said: “I wouldn’t know unless I got back in there and had 10 or 15 games. Look at Burnley, who went up last season and started quite badly.

“They have improved and done really well in recent weeks, so you can never tell about the gap until you’re in there yourself. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.”

Photo: Action Images

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