| 11.7°C Dublin


HE'S found his form again, rediscovered his shooting boots, got back what Austin Powers would describe as his 'mojo'.

And in-form Irish striker Daryl Murphy says that the Keane factor is the main reason why his once-stalled career has been revived during his loan spell with Ipswich Town -- a revival which could see the Waterford native, capped eight times at senior level, end his 18-month exile from the international scene.

Murphy was Sunderland's second-top scorer when they won promotion to the Premier League under Keane four seasons ago (David Connolly, believe it or not, was their top marksman), but in recent times the goals -- and the games -- had dried up for the former Waterford United player, who went for two years without scoring a league goal during a very frustrating time. For much of that period he was used out of position, as substitute or not at all.

But the 26-year-old has been reborn since he last month moved to Portman Road, on a loan deal until the end of the season, as last night Murphy scored his third goal in three games for Keane's side in their bitterly disappointing 3-1 defeat away by bottom side Peterborough United.

It wasn't a happy night for Keane or his men as Lee Frecklington -- remember him, he won a B cap against Scotland at Dalymount Park in the Steve Staunton era -- scored for Posh, and the defeat leaves Ipswich in a perilous position near the bottom, just one place away from the automatic relegation zone.


But in one way it was a successful outing for Murphy, who has now claimed more goals in the last month than in the previous two years.

"The chance to work with Roy again was the main reason I came here," Murphy told the Herald.

"Of course the aim was to get games in as I had been out of the picture so long at Sunderland, but the chance to play under Roy again was a massive thing for me, he's been great for my career.

"Everyone has an opinion about what Roy is like as a man or a manager, people who have never met him will meet players and give chapter and verse about what Roy Keane is really like, everyone's an expert.

"He has a reputation from some people for being hard to deal with but I find him the easiest to work with. There are no agendas with Roy, he's straight up. What he looks for, first and foremost, is honesty, hard work and effort. It was the first thing he said when he came in to Sunderland, if you worked hard and did what he asked of you, he'd be happy.

"He has always said, throughout his career, that talent is only a small part of the game, that your attitude and your dedication is important as well. If Roy sees that you are trying your best, in every training session and in every game, you'll be fine with him," added Murphy. One reason Murphy has enjoyed the move down south to Ipswich is the fact that he's been reborn as a striker, after a long period out in the cold and out on the wing. "It's just good to be playing in my natural position, up front," he stated. "I was wasted in that wide midfield role. I feel very frustrated playing out there and I don't feel I can do myself justice.

"I never felt comfortable playing as a winger. I can't really justify myself as a player out there, I needed a run of games up front to show what I could do and thankfully I have had that here at Ipswich.

"Roy was really the only Sunderland manager who gave me a run as a striker. It was very difficult, even when I was coming on as a sub, I was being used as a winger, not a centre forward.

"So I'm back as a striker now and I think I am repaying his faith with the goals I got. I scored two goals in the first two games but it could have been five or six. I missed a good few chances, especially in the second game against QPR. It was nice to score the goals but the ones I missed did bother me a bit as well. I was rusty from not playing games, once I get games in here at Ipswich and get used to playing every week, that sharpness will come back."

The former Waterford United man is in a form of limbo for his time at Ipswich: Murphy's only on loan until the end of the season as he has two years left on his contract at Sunderland.

"I'm here until the summer and we'll see what happens then. I came here to play games, do as well as I can for Ipswich and see what happens them. All I know is that it was time for me to get out of Sunderland," Murphy revealed.

"I have probably played my last game for Sunderland. I am not part of the manager's plans and there has been no indication that will change, and that doesn't bother me all that much, I know now that I need to get away. I want to go somewhere that I am going to be involved and I know I'm not wanted at Sunderland."

Murphy had some tough times this season. In the first half of the campaign his only chances in the first team came in the League Cup, and the Premier League season was into its 16th game before Murphy was given a run, against Portsmouth in December.

There was some hope when he played in three successive games for the Black Cats, but he knows now that he was only picked because so many players were absent due to injury, so his appearance in a 7-2 defeat by Chelsea could prove to be his last outing in a Sunderland shirt.

"The only reason I played those few games for Sunderland recently was because they were so short of players, and I know that. l would be back out of the squad again once those players came back so I wanted to get out, go off somewhere else and play some games," he says.

"I have two years left on my contract with Sunderland so there is will be a bit of talking and sorting out to do in the summer. I can't think about that now, I will worry about it in the summer."


The rest of the season is shaping up to be a relegation fight for Ipswich, but as long as Murphy is grabbing the goals, he has a chance of getting his international career moving again. He has won eight caps, two of them (against Serbia and Norway) under Giovanni Trapattoni but has been dropped in recent times, as he last featured for Ireland as an unused sub in the 0-0 draw away to Montenegro 18 months ago.

"I want to be involved. It was a great honour for me to play in the games I did, it was a proud moment for me to make my debut. Now I am here at Ipswich I have a chance to try and rebuild my career, if I can I play regularly and score some goals, I'll have a chance. But I need to be playing," Murphy confesses.

"Now that I am playing again who knows what might