TOMMY Smith is relishing the prospect of playing against Jon Stead, just a week after the duo were team-mates in Ipswich Town’s victory at Crystal Palace.

TOMMY Smith is relishing the prospect of playing against Jon Stead, just a week after the duo were team-mates in Ipswich Town’s victory at Crystal Palace.

World Cup star Smith, who is playing at the top of his game, will again partner Gareth McAuley in the heart of defence against visiting Bristol City this afternoon.

And a familiar face could well be leading the Robins’ front-line, because target man Stead, who joined the Bristol club from Town for a �225,000 fee on Monday, is in the visitors’ squad.

“It will feel a bit strange to perhaps be up against Jon Stead, because only last week he played with us,” admitted Smith.

“We know each other quite well from training over the last couple of years, so it will be interesting. I got on well with Steady, and it will be good to pit my wits against him.

“Overall, I’m pleased with my form. I feel I’m playing my best football for Ipswich Town, and have slotted in quite well.

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“The World Cup has given me the confidence boost that I needed. When you are competing against the top teams, it can’t help but give you that confidence,” added Smith, who played in all of New Zealand’s three group matches in South Africa.

Town have enjoyed a terrific start to the season, with four wins and a draw from their first five league and cup games. They have accrued seven points from a possible nine in the Championship, but are still waiting to claim their first home victory of the campaign.

Injuries will continue to rule out Connor Wickham, Damien Delaney and Mark Kennedy against City, while Tottenham loanee Andros Townsend is suspended.

But two players are set to make their home debut, with Celtic loanee Darren O’Dea likely to play at left-back following his two appearances at Palace and at Crewe, and front-runner Jason Scotland poised to be involved following his �750,000 switch from Wigan Athletic at the start of the week.

Roy Keane’s men have only conceded five goals in their first five fixtures, and that impressive start has been helped by Smith’s solid partnership with McAuley in the back four.

Smith confirmed: “Ever since I broke into the first team, a couple of years ago, I always felt that I played quite well with Gareth.

“The more games we play together, the better the understanding will be. We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we both talk to each other and both help each other through the game.”

Town are currently fifth in the table, and will be eager to go into the fortnight’s break for internationals with their unbeaten record in tact.

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