So much in common, but Keane has most to lose

There are just five days to go – but which camp is in better shape ahead of Sunday's East Anglian derby at Carrow Road?

Paul Lambert may just have to forego a day on the training pitches at Colney as he awaits a hearing date for an improper conduct charge. But he will probably be sitting a lot more comfortably than his counterpart at Portman Road, Roy Keane.

While Lambert's love affair with the Canaries faithful shows little sign of fading, Keane is beginning to fall out with some sections of the Ipswich support.

Perhaps we should start in Suffolk, where things came to a head a couple of games ago when, with Town losing at home to Barnsley, some fans began to do the unthinkable, and cheered the opposition.

One of the players, Carlos Edwards, said it was disrespectful, while Keane insisted it simply egged him on. But his mood appeared to have changed a little ahead of the weekend game at Hull when, in his pre-match press conference on Friday, he hit back.

He was relieved, he said, that Town had a couple of away games.

'I've got a lot of kids here on small wages,' he said. 'They should be applauded, not jeered. They are young players learning their trade. This booing mentality, it drives me on, it bloody well drives me on.

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'When you look at me you see a manager making progress, a manager who will make mistakes, but a manager who, given respect, will do a good job.'

Keane is on a two-year contract which expires at the end of the season – some say he won't last that long. He has his own views.

'I will do a good job, if not at Ipswich, trust me, then somewhere else. Things have not been going our way and, with people taking the mickey out of us, perhaps it's good that the next two games are away from home. The two games away will be good for us. We won't have to put up with all that nonsense.'

To be absolutely fair, by all accounts the travelling Ipswich fans got behind their team at Hull, who won 1-0.

The assumption is that they will do the same at Carrow Road on Sunday – if they don't then things really are bad.

Defender Tommy Smith believes Carrow Road could prove to be a turning point.

'We feel we can give Norwich a good game, and pick up a win,' he said.

'That could resurrect the season again, and we know that the fans will want to win it even more than we do.

'We certainly want to give the fans something to cheer about.'

City fans have had plenty of that since Lambert and Co came in 15 months ago.

The nearest we all got to a derby was a game against his old club, Colchester – acrimonious on the touchline, amazing the other side of it, as City rattled up a 5-0 victory. But it wasn't the real thing. Nothing but Ipswich twice a season is the real thing.

Lambert has been consistent in his opinion that what happens at Norwich City Football Club is all about the players and the supporters. A crowd of 26,315 packed into the ground for last weekend's 1-1 draw with Leeds and Sunday's encounter is expected to top that.

It will all be played out in front of a live TV audience – BBC, rather than Sky TV, which might suit Lambert a little more.

He was unhappy at the media obligations ahead of the opening game of the season when Sky sent regular live updates throughout most of the matchday. City were beaten 3-2 and Lambert vowed never to allow his preparations to be compromised to the same extent again.

Without a dedicated sports channel, the Beeb are unlikely to take over Carrow Road – leaving Lambert to do his job.

He will spend this week hoping that some of those who have made the treatment room home in recent weeks, will be showing signs of permanent recovery.

Andrew Surman provided a boost at the weekend when he ended a nine-week injury absence with about an hour against Leeds. Michael Nelson was on the bench, but two other regulars, Korey Smith and Adam Drury, weren't involved.

'It's been a rotten run of injuries, but with a few weary bodies on the verge of returning, City will consider they have come through it relatively unscathed. Four points from 12 isn't a great return – four unbeaten sounds a lot better.

There will be inevitable comparisons between the two managers, because they're too obvious to ignore.

Both were midfielders, both played for Celtic, both have Champions League winner's medals (though Keane missed the 1999 final through suspension) and both are regarded as up-and-coming young managers.

Both are highly respected purveyors of their trade – although who commands the greatest respect among his supporters is clearly open to conjecture.

City fans will claim it's Lambert, but if one teams comes out on top on Sunday, their stock will rise immeasurably.

The difference is, if City lose, Lambert will still be held in the highest regard. If Ipswich lose, it might not be the same case for Keane.