Norwich City’s 2016/17 Championship fixtures: Alex Neil’s reaction
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Alex Neil admits an August Championship meeting against rivals Ipswich Town will 'whet the appetite' for the Canaries' fans.
City begin their promotion bid at Blackburn Rovers on August 6 before home games with Gary Hooper's Sheffield Wednesday and Gary O'Neil's Bristol City prior to an eagerly-anticipated visit to Portman Road for the first derby clash of the season on August 20.
'Blackburn is going to be a tough game, but it's one we're looking forward to,' said Neil. 'Before we last played them, the club didn't have a great record up there. However, we managed to fix that the last time we went there and it helped get us to the Premier League.
'We've then got a couple of home games, which hopefully gives us a good chance of making a good start. It's important we do that in order to give us a platform to build upon.
'With the Ipswich game following, that will really appeal to the appetite of the fans. They'll be looking forward to that early doors, which is great.'
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Town counterpart Mick McCarthy agrees an early derby meeting adds some extra spice. McCarthy's former club, Barnsley, head to Suffolk on the opening day.
'It's great to be at home first and its funny how things work out, with us playing my hometown club in Barnsley,' McCarthy told Ipswich's official site. 'I have a lot of affinity with Barnsley but that goes out of the window when we get underway, I just want to win the game. It will be a tough start, against a newly promoted and motivated side but once the fixtures are released, that excitement comes back for everyone.
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'The buzz will be back with everyone, especially the supporters. With Norwich at Portman Road in just the fourth game, it's shaping up to be a good first month and I'm sure the fans have looked out for that fixture straightaway.
'It is pleasing to be at home at Christmas too, with Fulham visiting us on Boxing Day. The festive period has been fairly kind to us in terms of travelling, as we also host Bristol City and then travel to QPR.'
City's squad, minus those on international duty, are scheduled to return next week to begin pre-season preparations.
'The squad, apart from those at the Euros, have had their rest,' said Neil, on the club's official site. 'They're now eager to get back to work, and to come back fit and ready for the new season. Everybody is now focused fully on this year, rather than last year, which is good. Every match in this division is going to be a test, but we want to make sure we have a successful season.'