Canaries’ play-off hopes hanging by a thread ahead of derby day clash

There's a lot of pressure on Alex Neil going into the derby

There's a lot of pressure on Alex Neil going into the derby - Credit: PA

Norwich sports writer David Freezer takes a look at the storylines surrounding Norwich City in the run up to Sunday’s derby day clash.

Hopes of bouncing back to the Premier League are hanging by a thread for Norwich City before they welcome a resurgent Town to Carrow Road.

The Canaries had enjoyed a renaissance of their own since the turn of the year, losing just once in nine league games.

That run pushed Alex Neil’s team to within two points of the top six. Having been 12th and six adrift after an eighth defeat in 10 when losing at Reading on Boxing Day, it was a marked improvement.

However, allowing a lead to slip in a 2-2 draw with leaders Newcastle was followed by a damaging 2-1 loss at Burton on Saturday.

With a couple of wins for Sheffield Wednesday in that time, all of a sudden City are seven points adrift with 13 games to play, making the derby a must-win encounter.

Win and Neil’s players could get the second wind needed, with five of the top six still to play.

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Three of those are away from home though and that is where the problems are for the Norfolk boys, picking up four wins and four draws from 17 away games.

Town go to Carrow Road though, where only three teams have won this season. Brighton and Reading are the only teams to have won more points on their own turf but no-one has scored more at home than Norwich (36).

It could be a good time for the Blues to travel across the border however.

Star striker Nelson Oliveira is out until the end of March with a foot problem, as is experienced midfielder Graham Dorrans, with a knee injury.

Promising midfielder Louis Thompson suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury in November which has ruled him out for the season.

Portuguese right-back Ivo Pinto has missed the last two matches (foot), as has Youssouf Mulumbu (thigh) and the tenacity of £8million signing Steven Naismith (hamstring) has been missing for five matches.

The latter three could all return as Neil enters the Last Chance Saloon, knowing derby victory could salvage his season but that defeat could well prove the proverbial straw to break the camel’s back.

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