Stewart backs protégé Harrison to be a big hit with the Ipswich fans
PUBLISHED: 09:32 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:32 27 July 2018
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Former Ipswich Town fans’ favourite Marcus Stewart believes his protégé Ellis Harrison can be a big hit at Portman Road.
Stewart, in his role as Bristol Rovers’ assistant manager, has schooled Harrison in the art of being a striker for the last five years.
The Newport-born front man played a key role in The Gas rising from the National League to League One and, after hitting 14 goals last season, has joined the Blues in a £750k deal.
“He was 19 when I first joined the club and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him,” said Stewart, who helped fire Town to play-off glory in 2000 before playing a starring role as George Burley’s men secured an unlikely fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
“We’ve had a great relationship over the years and I’ve seen him mature as a man.
“The first thing I want to say is that he’s a smashing lad, a great person and the lads will love him. He’s funny, kind, respectful – I can’t speak highly enough of him.
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“In terms of a player, he’s got a bit of everything. He’s got pace and power, he’ll put himself about, he’ll work hard, win headers in both boxes and add value to the team. I think he’s got all the attributes to be a very good Championship player. It’s up to him to take this opportunity now.”
With Harrison having produced a lively first display in a Town shirt during Tuesday night’s 1-0 friendly win at MK Dons, Stewart continued: “I’ll be honest, I don’t see Ellis as a 20-goal-a-season striker, but he will contribute massively to the team.
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“Paul Hurst doesn’t have 20-goal-a-season scorers anyway. Last season he had a couple in the 10s and a few with five, six, seven or eight. The goals tend to get shared about in his teams.
“I remember Ellis playing really well at Shrewsbury last year. We lost 4-0, but he was man-of-the-match that day and that probably stuck in Paul’s mind. He scored in our (National League) Play-Off Final win against his Grimsby team back in 2015 too, so has been a bit of a thorn for Paul.”
Stewart added: “He’s the latest striker to move up a level from us following Matty Taylor and Billy Bodin (moving to Bristol City and Preston respectively). It makes me proud to see people develop and step up. I’m certainly proud to have played my part in Ellis’ career and hope that he can step up and earn his first senior Wales cap too.
“I hope he gets off to a good start because I think that’s important for a striker – both for their own confidence and winning over the fans.
“The truth is, I still think there is more to come. He’s not the finished article.”