Youngsters may be where the heart is

It's pointless for me to try to drum up your passion ahead of tomorrow's derby clash.If you're not already feeling the adrenalin pumping through your veins, it's not the game for you and you might as well not bother.

It's pointless for me to try to drum up your passion ahead of tomorrow's derby clash.

If you're not already feeling the adrenalin pumping through your veins, it's not the game for you and you might as well not bother.

But I suspect that most of you, like me, have been looking forward to this weekend for a long, long time. Even the ridiculous kick-off time has failed to dampen the excitement. (It's interesting to note that the Met are happy for Spurs and Arsenal to play each other today at 12.45pm rather than insisting they meet at noon on a Sunday.)

Both we and Ipswich have had seasons to forget - and until midday tomorrow, at least, we've had an even worse time than they've had because at least they have already won a derby this year.

Memories of that awful day in November are still extremely vivid because our performance was nothing short of a disgrace. A victory tomorrow is the very least the home fans deserve.

We have a long list of players unavailable, but things might not be as bad as we have been led to believe.

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I'm not entirely convinced that Peter Grant isn't playing a few mind games regarding our injury situation - there's no doubt that we have a long list of casualties but don't be surprised if a couple of the “major doubts” are actually fit enough to play after all.

And so what if we have to play a few of our youngsters? Having come through the ranks at Colney, perhaps some of them will show a little more passion on the day than some of their seniors showed in November.

t It's not often that I feel like giving my backing to a player of the blue and white persuasion, and it's even more surprising that I should feel like doing so on the eve of a derby game.

Add in the fact that many City fans haven't forgiven his dad for walking out on us nearly 20 years ago, and perhaps it makes it all the more strange.

But I can't have been the only one who struggled to stop myself rooting for Alex Bruce this week following his to-do with Derby goalkeeper Stephen Bywater at Portaloo Road.

An Ipswich-supporting contact tells me that his team actually played quite well against the Rams, with the visitors' policy of sitting back on their one-goal lead backfiring spectacularly.

It wasn't too long ago that a ridiculous refereeing display at Carrow Road contributed to Derby hanging on to their narrow lead against us. But as well as a poor display by the officials on that occasion, that game will also be remembered for the antics of Bywater.

It seems he took his pathetic behaviour with him to Ipswich this week, but this time he didn't get away with it and he and Bruce were sent off for fighting.

Their red cards have since been rescinded but it was nonetheless heartening to see Bywater get his comeuppance, and yesterday he decided not to appeal against a charge of misconduct.

Space prohibits me from saying too much more about him here, but Bywater clearly likes the limelight and - unlike many players who shun publicity - he has his own Myspace page.

So if you want to read more about this amazing guy, just visit And if you're a fan of his, you can even send him a message wishing him good luck for the rest of the season.


Football fans across the country would love to see Leeds relegated, but I've got a feeling that they could just claw their way out of the bottom three.

I've had a sneaky suspicion for some time that they would put a mini-run together and survive in the Championship by the skin of their teeth.

Southend's form has been up and down like a whore's drawers, but I reckon that survival will be just beyond the Shrimpers and they'll be joining Luton in League One next year.

So if Leeds do get themselves out of trouble, that will leave one more relegation place to fill - and Leicester are looking the most likely to fill it at the moment.

There were so many things pointing towards a home win at the Walkers Stadium last week.

We supposedly had little to play for, and they had a new manager in Nigel Worthington, up against his former team.

Leicester had the backing of a noisy drummer who was so big that the tattoos on his magnificent stomach might easily have included the complete works of Shakespeare, and he made sure that the surprisingly small home crowd kept up at least some semblance of support to the end.

Add in our injury crisis and you can see why the odds were stacked against us.

Oh, and we were 1-0 down and had lost our captain after 40 seconds.

But despite the fact that we were rubbish in the first half, Leicester failed to build on their lead. And once we started to exert our authority in the second half, there was only ever going to be one winner.

We were much better after the break, no doubt partly thanks to the superb away support, which included Delia making one of her regular appearances on the terraces. (I didn't see it, but a spy tells me she even joined in a brief rendition of "Worthy, Worthy what's the score?" Nice one.)

Last Saturday was a very winnable game for the Foxes, but they threw it away and have since lost to Birmingham, too.

I'm still hoping that Leeds spiral into oblivion, but if they do manage to survive, don't be surprised to see their place in the bottom three taken by Leicester. Things are not looking good at the Walkers.

t Our former manager seems to have a new nickname, with the Leicester fans calling for "Wortho" to give them a wave during last week's match.

Surely they know that it's "Worthy"?

After all, when it all goes wrong, “You're not Wortho any more” doesn't work.