Southend view on Pompey triallist Noel Hunt

Noel Hunt celebrates his goal against the Hawks. Picture: Joe Pepler
Noel Hunt celebrates his goal against the Hawks. Picture: Joe Pepler
Plymouth Argyle's Remi Matthews. Picture: PA Images

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Noel Hunt possesses the ability to be a threat to League Two defences.

Yet injuries have affected the Irishman’s impact in recent times.

He is one of those players who can see a pass, has a bit about him and is a step ahead of his team-mates at this standard

Chris Phillips

That is the view of the Southend Echo’s Chris Phillips, who covered Hunt’s Roots Hall stay last term.

The striker scored four goals in 22 matches for Phil Brown’s side as they finished 15th in League One.

Hunt was offered a fresh deal to remain for the approaching campaign.

Pompey are now poised to secure the 33-year-old former Reading man.

Phillips, however, raises concerns over Hunt’s injury record.

He said: ‘When Hunt is fit he can definitely be a threat, you can tell he has featured at a higher level.

‘He is one of those players who can see a pass, has a bit about him and is a step ahead of his team-mates at this standard.

‘There can be no question mark over his ability, while he is a really nice guy and great to have around the place. My concern is his injury record and last season the biggest problem was trying to keep him fit.

‘Hunt would play a few games and then be out for a few games.

‘When he was back you were unsure how fit he was as he attempted to get his sharpness back.

‘Southend managed to get only 14 starts out of him.

‘Injuries included ankle, knee and calf and he played just one of the last 11 fixtures.

‘He’s a good player, though, prepared to work hard and willing to pass his experience on to the younger lads.

‘The biggest issue was his fitness.’

Despite being hampered by injury, Brown’s desire to keep Hunt at Southend reflects well.

He joined on a free transfer from Ipswich in August 2015 and scored twice in the opening four matches.

There was also a double in a 4-1 victory over Bury in December.

Yet he only made 13 more appearances following that high as he battled for fitness.

Nonetheless, Hunt was a player the Shrimpers were eager to keep around, with two offers this summer tabled to retain him.

Phillips added: ‘The club offered him a pay-as-you-play type deal, involving a more incentive-based system.

‘The manager would have liked to have kept him but they wanted to change the terms.

‘Southend also wanted him in for pre-season as he missed last year’s after his exit from Ipswich.’