No pain, no gain for Alex Neil in Norwich City’s play-off quest against Ipswich Town

Norwich City manager Alex Neil and Ipswich rival Mick McCarthy will renew acquaintances again at Car

Norwich City manager Alex Neil and Ipswich rival Mick McCarthy will renew acquaintances again at Carrow Road on Saturday. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City boss Alex Neil insists the pain of missing out on automatic Championship promotion is fuelling the Canaries' play-off quest ahead of Saturday's semi-final, first leg trip to rivals Ipswich.

City finished third in the table, just three points behind Watford, who joined champions Bournemouth in the Premier League next season.

Norwich aim to join them at the expense of their East Anglian neighbours, and Neil knows what it takes after guiding Hamilton to the Scottish top flight 12 months ago.

'This is very similar to the scenario I had at Hamilton,' he said. 'We lost the league on the last day and that disappointment was probably even worse because we were at the top of the table for a long, long time and lost it with a couple or so games left. But it galvanised us and we were more determined to go through the play-offs. I get the same feeling with this group of players. The bottom line is it's big games now and we have to make sure we are bang at it.'

Neil feels his personal experience of sudden death football can only benefit the Canaries' squad.

'I think it must do. I don't know how you could perceive that as a negative so for me that is a positive,' he said. 'The fact I have been there and gone through that process before and come out the other end successfully; that is the most important thing. I have been in this position before and know what it takes. Our preparation will be the same as the league. I hope the players are focused and you create an environment where they can express themselves and play to their maximum.'