JON STEAD will be wondering whether he is a part of Roy Keane’s Ipswich masterplan – despite playing a key role as the Irishman enjoyed a debut win.
The Town old boy came off the bench at Cardiff to set up two goals and score the other in his side’s 3-0 Championship victory.
It was the 13th time the Huddersfield-born striker has netted for the Tractor Boys, who signed him from Sheffield United for £600,000 early this season.
But he was allowed to leave Sunderland by Keane, who sold him to the Blades for £750,000 in January 2007 – after loaning him out to Derby.
At least Stead, 26, expects to be kept in the picture as Keane starts rebuilding for a tilt at promotion to the Premier League.
"You know exactly where you stand with him," said the man who bagged 24 goals for Town before leaving for Blackburn in a £1.25m move in February 2004 and joined Sunderland for £1.8m in the summer of 2005, when Mick McCarthy was in charge.
"He’s still the same man around the training ground. He sits and watches a lot. If he feels he does need to say something, he says it.
"I suppose he’s hard, but he’s fair, and that’s all you can ask."
Keane says he wants Ipswich to be willing to play "ugly" football.
"Maybe this team have been accused of not doing the dirty things too well," he said.
"That’s got to change because great teams can do the ugly things when they have to.
"One of the things that pleases me most as a manager is to see my sides get stuck in.
"We have quality in this squad – as long as they keep producing the dirty stuff that I used to."