Ice in the veins is Alex Neil’s mantra for Norwich City ahead of Ipswich duel

Norwich City defender Seb Bassong and Ipswich Town striker Freddie Sears tussle for the ball in the

Norwich City defender Seb Bassong and Ipswich Town striker Freddie Sears tussle for the ball in the Canaries' 2-0 Championship win at Carrow Road in March. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil is demanding ice in the veins of his Norwich City players to handle the Portman Road cauldron in Saturday's Championship play-off semi-final, first leg derby.

Neil knows the Canaries must stay cool under fire with a Wembley place at stake against their bitter rivals as the hype threatens to reach fever pitch by kick-off time.

'The lads will be fully-prepared and pretty much ready to go to battle - within the rules of the game,' said Neil. 'I think it is important you get the balance right. You need to be determined, in the sense of making sure you are not going to be bullied and you are going to compete as best as you possibly can. However, the one thing you don't want to do is go in too hyped up and let it boil over and ultimately it might cost the team.

'I don't play too much attention to the hype. I try to keep away from that. I need to keep a clear head and think about how I am going to go about picking my team without any influence from anyone else so I'm not paying attention to what is happening outside the club.'

Neil completed a league double over Mick McCarthy's men in March but the Scot respects the threat from the likes of Championship top scorer Daryl Murphy and his Ipswich team mates.

'We have coped with that big, physical threat on two occasions very well this season so there is no reason we can't do that again,' he said. 'However, any game can swing on one incident, whether it is a sending-off, a bad tackle or someone scoring a fantastic goal from 30 yards so there are always variables within a game that you can't control as a coach. That is why I haven't got any hair left.

'We have managed to keep two clean sheets, which bodes well, but there is no specific plan for Daryl Murphy. He has had a fantastic season and he is a good player but they have a lot of good players.'

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