MICK MCCARTHY reckons that former Ireland man Daryl Murphy is in the best form of his career.
Murphy, 30, has scored seven goals in 25 games for Ipswich this season and boss McCarthy – who worked with Murphy at Sunderland – is delighted with the Waterford man's displays in the Championship.
"This is certainly the best he has ever played for me and I doubt he's ever played better throughout his career because he wouldn't be at this level now if he had," said McCarthy, his side still bruised by their FA Cup defeat to League One side Preston.
"I think he's been very, very good this season and has been a real handful for everybody he's faced."
Murphy has been a key figure for the Tractor Boys this season under McCarthy, form that has even sparked some talk about a possible Ireland recall for the former Waterford United man.
Murphy made his senior debut under Steve Staunton against Ecuador in 2007 and he went on to play twice under Giovanni Trapattoni, but his last cap was way back in 2008 and he has not featured since.
McCarthy will recall Murphy to the Ipswich squad following injury for today's game against Millwall – Murphy was missing for the last two games, two defeats, due to a thigh injury.
"It's good to have him back," said McCarthy.
"Sometimes he puts all the graft in and doesn't get the goal for it. David McGoldrick or somebody else gets the goal and all the headlines. That happens in every team – the ones who get the goals are always appreciated more. Murph's got his fair share of goals this season though, to be fair," said McCarthy.
Meanwhile, Irish U21 star Jack Grealish has been given some encouragement by his Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert on the back of a loan spell with League One strugglers Notts County.
The 18-year-old scored three goals in 18 games for the Magpies before he was recalled to Villa last week, but after he lined out for them in an FA Youth Cup match, Lambert has decided to renew the loan deal and Grealish can now finish out the season with them.
"I think he's doing really well at Notts County," said Lambert.
"It's a learning curve for him. It's not just boys' football, it's men's football with lads that have to earn their livelihood, so it's good."
The Magpies are also delighted to have Grealish, capped four times at U21 level, back at the club.
"Jack wanted to play in Villa's FA Youth Cup game at Liverpool because it was a big game for them, which was certainly understandable. But he is very popular here with the staff at the football club, the players and certainly the fans," said assistant manager Greg Abbott.
"It would be great to have him back through the door and here with us because there is no doubt he is a big talent."