Former Ipswich Town striker Ellis Harrison has spoken of his friendship with Marcus Stewart after the Blues legend revealed he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Harrison will face the Blues with current club Port Vale tonight, with the Valiants using the game as an opportunity to raise awareness of the work of the Darby Rimmer Foundation.

The Foundation, set up by former Liverpool and Bradford City defender Stephen Darby and his close friend Chris Rimmer, both of whom have been diagnosed with MND, seeks to support those with the illness and try to find a cure.

Stewart, 49, revealed his diagnosis in September, with he and wife Louise setting up a Just Giving page to raise funds for the foundation.

And, speaking in tonight's match programme, Harrison told of his great friendship with and respect for Stewart, with whom he worked at Bristol Rovers.

He said: “When I first met Stewy, I was a first-year professional that was pushed aside to the Academy and Under 23s squad.

"The rest is history, with the two promotions we achieved. He is a guy that has always wanted more from me, even more so when I am going through a good spell.

“What I mean by that is that you can be getting all of the outside praise but when you have someone like Marcus Stewart saying ‘I still need this from you’, you can’t argue, and over the years I have become really good friends with Stewy.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Town and Bristol Rovers players showed their support for Stewart before their game in SeptemberIpswich Town and Bristol Rovers players showed their support for Stewart before their game in September (Image: Ross Halls)

“If I did come out of my lane and got carried away by scoring goals, I know the first person on the phone would be Stewy.

“I have spoken with Stewy since his diagnosis and he is positive; he has had a positive outlook on everything in life since I have known him and I wish him nothing but the best.

"He is a great friend and moving forward hopefully we can raise money and awareness, not just for him, but for the condition and with a stroke of luck we can help towards finding a cure.”

Harrison's words come as Town today launched a new range of Marcus Stewart accessories to raise money for the foundation - including his iconic woolly gloves.

Town CEO Mark Ashton said: "We are delighted to launch this range and we are pleased that we will be able to help the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation with their invaluable work.

"Marcus is an Ipswich Town legend but more importantly a great man. We will do everything we can to support him, his family, and the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation."

And Harrison, who scored one goal in 17 games for the Blues during a season-long stay at the club between 2018-19, also spoke of his affection for the club.

“As a club, Ipswich were incredible and the professionalism around the club was the best I have experienced over a period of time,” he explained.

“I just wish it was more successful for me, in terms of experiencing the relegation and injuries there. It was the right time to go the club and if I had to make the choice again, I would still pick Ipswich because it was so good.

“We were at the bottom of the table for the last three months of the season and the fans treated us like we were top of the table. That made such a difference because they didn’t kick us while we were down and I will always be grateful for that.

“It is nice to see the direction the club is now going in; it feels like the rejuvenation is something the club has needed from when I was there.

“I played with Evo (Lee Evans) and Wes (Burns) for Wales, and JD (Janoi Donacien) and Kayden (Jackson) for Ipswich, while I was with Marcus Harness at Portsmouth for two-and-a-half years. Marcus gave me a call to say that the move could be on and I said it would be a great club for him.

“Save for Tuesday and the reverse fixture, I wish them all nothing but success.”