Neil: "It’s the biggest local derby in quite a while"ALEX Neil is backing his Norwich City team to ‘take the initiative’ in this weekend’s East Anglian derby against Ipswich Town at Carrow Road.
The Canaries face their fiercest rivals on Sunday (2.05pm) with both sides striving for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.
Following Tuesday’s comeback victory at Blackburn Rovers, City will head into the game looking to extend their impressive winning run to six – and Neil says that’s exactly the target.
“We want to go and try to win the game, that’s always going to be the approach,” he told Norwich City TV in an exclusive pre-match interview.
“We’re the home team and we’ll go and try to take the game to them. We’ll be aggressive, we’ll be up and in their faces and hopefully we’ll go and take the initiative and implement our style of play on the game.
“For the fans it’s about bragging rights and local pride, but for me it’s another opportunity for us to go above another team and hopefully close that gap (to the promotion places).”
City’s boss says he’s well-versed in the importance of derby meetings but insists he’s looking ahead to the occasion, especially given the extra relevance of the match in the context of the two clubs’ seasons.
“It’s the biggest local derby in quite a while because of the significance of the game and the fact that if we win, we can go above them,” he added.
“I’m sure they’ll be approaching it in the same manner, so we’ve got to make sure we’re right up for it, and we’ll be fully prepared for the match.
“I was brought up in Glasgow, where derbies are of course a big thing. I’m fully aware of what a derby means and we’ll be ready to go, and I’m really looking forward to it.
While Neil is of the opinion that the final result will take precedent come Sunday evening, he believes the best way to go about making certain it’s in City’s favour is to ensure a continuation of the recent performance levels that have pushed them on to two wins on the road already this week.
“If it’s a derby and you’re a fan, you don’t want to know how well your team played, you want to know whether you won or not,” he said.
“That’s the most important thing - however, I’m a big believer in that if your performances are good enough over the course of the game, then you’ll get what you deserve.
“First and foremost as a group, we’ve got to make sure that we play well and try and dominate the match. If we can do that, we give ourselves the best opportunity of winning the game.”
Gary Hooper (illness) was absent at Ewood Park, and on his chances of featuring Neil added: “He should be fine; he should be back in the squad. He’ll do a bit of training and we’ll see how he gets on between now and Sunday.”
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