Norwich City magician Wes Hoolahan wary of resurgent Ipswich Town

Wes Hoolahan respects the threat from Ipswich Town.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Wes Hoolahan respects the threat from Ipswich Town. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Wes Hoolahan admits Ipswich Town have got their act together – which could spell trouble for Norwich City in Sunday's East Anglian derby.

Norwich City slipped up again on the road in the Championship at Burton Albion.
Picture: Paul Chest

Norwich City slipped up again on the road in the Championship at Burton Albion. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Hoolahan respects the threat from Mick McCarthy's squad after recent spirited draws against the likes of Reading, Brighton and Leeds United.

The Republic of Ireland international has enjoyed his cross-border tussles and scored in the memorable Championship play-off semi-final, second leg at Carrow Road in 2015. Hoolahan could reach another landmark this weekend, as he close in on a half-century of goals with the Canaries.

'That would be nice to bring up that this weekend,' said the Dubliner, who is currently on 48. 'To get to the 50 mark would be great but the most important is we win the game, whether I score or not. It's about the team. All the players are up for it and we will go out there and play with our hearts. You need to enjoy these games, you have to play freely, win your battles and if you get the win then you can really enjoy it even more.

'It is a hard week because you know playing Ipswich is a tough game. They are well-drilled, organised and Mick has them playing well now. We'd probably have wanted to play them a couple of months ago. They seem to have got their act together. They are playing really well and they are always a hard team to play against. It's a derby, everyone is up for it but this is a challenge we look forward to.'

David McGoldrick is a dangerman for the Blues. Picture: Steve Waller

David McGoldrick is a dangerman for the Blues. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Hoolahan is a big fan of Republic of Ireland international team mate David McGoldrick, who appears to be over his injury problems. Alex Neil has tried to manage Hoolahan's own workload this season so he can be at his influential best.

'There are a lot of games in the Championship. You need fresh legs and the gaffer has shuffled the pack and changed players from game to game,' said the 34-year-old. 'I am fine with that. If I am fresh for games and feel good that is the most important thing. The gaffer has managed it well.

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'I used to know Daryl Murphy through the Irish connection and obviously David McGoldrick is still there. He is a quality player and one we need to watch out for because he has the ability to hurt teams.'

Hoolahan realises the importance of beating their neighbours in the wider context of reviving a promotion push, after losing ground on the top six in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Burton.

'If you look at the table and the position we are in then we need to win games, whether it was Ipswich or not,' he said. 'This is the most important one. We need to get up there in the play-offs and normally it's around 82, 83 points to get in the play-offs. We know what is required to get to where we want but really you can only focus on the next one. There is probably a lot more pressure on us as we are chasing the top six.

'We are all playing each other over these next few weeks, in terms of the clubs in and around the play-offs. We know we have Sheffield Wednesday the following week so it doesn't get any easier but we need to win a lot of games. The key thing is we do our job and get the points we need.

'You go to Burton, you expect to win, particularly after two good results against Newcastle and Nottingham Forest when we are on a bit of a high. That was very disappointing but it is gone, we have to forget about it and roll on. We know what to expect. Two years ago we went on a great run and just missed out on second place. We need a similar run and we are capable because we have a great manager and a lot of quality in the dressing room.'