Norwich City’s Alex Neil is ready for round two with Ipswich rival Mick McCarthy at Carrow Road

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 is relishing his East Anglian rivalry with Ipswich counterpart Mick McCarthy ahead of Saturday's defining Championship play-off semi-final, second leg tie.

Neil and McCarthy appeared to kick every ball in the rivals' 1-1 first leg draw at a raucous Portman Road as both managers try to reach Wembley. The City chief is unbeaten in his two tussles with the experienced Blues' manager, but Neil revealed he has huge respect for McCarthy.

'Mick is doing the best for his club, I am doing the best for mine,' he said. 'But we are playing against each other, and I am sure if we could we would like to lunge over and kick each other, but once the game was done, we had a chat and then we get ready to go to battle again this week.

'We are both desperate to win. I think the fact it is our derby makes it a bit different and what is at stake at the end.

'It was a great atmosphere (at Ipswich). I thought both sets of supporters were fantastic and hopefully that will be the same in the second leg. When we got the goal the one thing we have done in most games is we rarely lose the lead, generally we go on and win so that was a bit disappointing but we have another home tie. It is certainly not job done because we wanted to come and win the away game.'


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The 33-year-old admitted recently hanging up his boots was one of the hardest sacrifices he had to make when he left Hamilton in January to take over at Norwich, after featuring regularly for the Accies over the past two seasons.

'I have guys better-equipped than me to do the job. I could play for a few more years but not at this level, pushing into the Premier League,' he said. 'It was something I had to give up but if we get there I will enjoy it.

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'I don't join in training either. The first thing if you are playing against your boss is you want to take the mick out of him and then it is more about beating him than focusing on your training. I used to get involved all the time up the road but I don't want any distractions here.'

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