Keane pays tribute to Gradi

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues manager Roy Keane has paid tribute to Dario Gradi – the man he will be pitting his wits against in tonight’s Carling Cup second round clash at League Two Crewe Alexandra (kick-off 7.45pm).

The Italian-born 69-year-old has been in charge of the Gresty Road-based club since 1983 although he has taken a couple of breaks to move upstairs.

He is now back running first team affairs having produced a stream of talented youngsters over the years.

And Saturday’s 7-0 league victory over Barnet will bolster his side before taking on Keane’s unbeaten men.

“There are not many like Dario around,” said Keane.

“Football is in his blood, and I think it’s been proved that he’s lost without it.

“It’s like a drug and like all drugs football can come at a price – it has cost marriages.

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“The amount of experience he has is scary and his loyalty to Crewe has been priceless.

“Dario’s a father figure and it will be a tough game for us tonight – and also tough for Crewe.”

Keane says that this cup game will not prove a distraction although gaining promotion to the Premier League is obviously the main target this campaign.

“If we win the game it will us all a lift and there is a spirit among the players and fans that we want to keep going.

“We never had that last year and we might have to roll our sleeves up and grind out a result.

“The best teams win when they are not having a good day.

“To score seven goals against anyone takes some doing and it is a great game for Crewe as they will be in a no lose situation.

“Having four of our first five games away from home is tough on us and tough on our spectators, but we want to keep the feel good factor going.

“It’s our aim to gain a winning mentality and we don’t want to be driving back down the motorway after the game with a defeat behind us.”

Keane also had praise for Jon Stead, who finally completed his move to Bristol City for �250,000 on a three-year contract yesterday.

“I’m disappointed to lose Jon,” said Keane.

“He’s showed his good side and always put in a good shift. Some players in his position would have been pulling up with a virus or back strain, but Jon has kept putting it in, and as soon as we knew we were making a signing yesterday we were in a position to let Jon go once he had agreed terms etc.”

Tonight’s likely squads

Crewe: Taylor, Artell, Ada, Blanchett, Tootle, Bell, Grant, Murphy, Westwood, Donaldson, Miller, Moore, Shelley, Leitch-Smith, Dugdale, Mitchell-King, Powell, Fogler.

Ipswich Town: Murphy, Fulop, Peters, McAuley, Smith, O’Connor, Brown, Eastman, Edwards, Healy, Leadbitter, Norris, Lambe, Scotland, Priskin, Murray, Lee-Barrett, Hourihane, Hyam, Ainsley, Clark

Referee: Mr P Tierney (Lancashire)

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