Early present for Dan?

Dan Harding is after an early present - that's birthday not Christmas.It all seems to be happening for the Ipswich full-back, who turns 23 tomorrow week.

By Mel Henderson

Dan Harding is after an early present - that's birthday not Christmas.

It all seems to be happening for the Ipswich full-back, who turns 23 tomorrow week.

He and girlfriend Vicki have just moved into their new home in the town and expect their first child in March.

On the field, too, Harding has gradually settled and found a level of consistency since his pre-season move from tomorrow's opponents Leeds.

But after 21 appearances for Town, coincidentally the same number he made for his former club, Harding is still waiting

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to score his first goal.

He said: “I've only ever scored once in my career and that was for my first club Brighton.

“But I feel that I am getting

closer all the time to my first for Ipswich and it would be all the sweeter if it came tomorrow against Leeds.

“The gaffer is encouraging me to get forward more and hopefully it's only a matter of time”.

Harding spent only one season at Elland Road after a tribunal-set £850,000 move in the summer of 2005.

He added: “It ticked all the right boxes at the time. I needed to move on and it was good money for Brighton.

“I played the first 21 games of the season but then got injured and when I was fully fit again I couldn't get back into the side”.

“I used to support Leeds as a boy and it was one of the main reasons that I jumped at the chance to join them.

“But it was frustrating not being in the side and when Ipswich came in for me in August I knew I had to make the move.

“I could have stayed at Leeds and fought for my place but I know I made the right decision.

“I love it here, playing regularly in the first team, and I am enjoying my time in Ipswich far more than I ever did at Leeds.

“I'm surprised at their position in the table but their team has changed a lot in a few months. I only recognize about five or six of the lads who got them to the play-off final last season”.

Harding had words of praise for boss Jim Magilton, who took over from Joe Royle just six months ago.

He said: “He may still be what people call a rookie manager but he has unbelievable knowledge of the game and his experiences as a player are standing him in good stead now.

“We haven't had the greatest of times during the first half of the season but I feel we are capable of so much more in the second half”.

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