Norwich City require the blade and the bludgeon at Ipswich

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows Ipswich will test his side at Portman Road. Picture by Paul Chestert

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows Ipswich will test his side at Portman Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil pledges his Norwich City side is ready to write a new chapter in East Anglian derby rivalry.

The Canaries have held the upper hand in the last four meetings, and finished eight points clear of Ipswich, but Neil was at pains to stress that counts for nothing ahead of Saturday's Championship play-off semi-final, first leg at Portman Road.

'I don't think there is any psychological advantage. We could play Ipswich every day this week and it would be entirely different,' he said. 'I think this will be more intense, certainly at the start of the game. I think the first 25 minutes could be a bit of a blur. We need to make sure we control that period.

'Derbies will always be different. It doesn't matter what I say to them because of the passion that exists with the fans. It will always have a different feel but you have to embrace that as a player.

'If anything it is more of a motivation for me that we are playing our rivals because the last thing we want to do is lose to them.


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'The one thing that makes it more than a game is not the money at stake or getting to Wembley, it is the fact it is your local rivals. The fact it is a play-off semi-final adds to the importance but these last 22 games have all been the same.'

Neil accepts Norwich must match Ipswich's physical brand of endeavour if they want to impose their possession-based game on the Blues in a febrile atmosphere.

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'It is about getting the balance,' he said. 'Physically, you have to be able to step up and win your battles, win second balls, win your headers, because if you don't Ipswich is the type of team who can over-power and bully you, rather then prevail through good football at times. It might just be a willingness to put your head in where others wouldn't.

'We have to match that, but be brave on the ball as well to control the game.

'We need that threat going forward but also to make sure we are well covered in those areas where we might not have the ball, otherwise there isn't much point in having that threat up top.

'The one thing I will say is we are going in with complete confidence. We won't be going in worrying about making mistakes. Mistakes happen. If you worry about them that is a problem. All we are focused on is trying to dominate them in every way we can and limit those mistakes.

'We have quality all over the pitch and guys who can make a difference all over the pitch.'

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