John Wark will remind Ipswich Town players what the East Anglian derby means to fans

Ipswich Town legend John Wark

Ipswich Town legend John Wark - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town legend John Wark will visit the club’s training ground tomorrow to remind Mick McCarthy’s players just how important Sunday’s match against Norwich City is to the fans.

With Town just one point above their regional rivals and fellow Championship promotion hopefuls, this weekend’s televised match at Carrow Road has exacerbated the usual pre-derby mix of excitement and nerves among the two sets of supporters.

Wark – who enjoyed three spells at Town and is the leading goalscorer in East Anglian derby history with nine – said: “I pop to the training ground now and again and when I’m there on Friday I might have a little word with one or two of them, remind them just how important this game is to the fans.

“Most of them have played in a derby match of some sort during their careers and will know what these matches are all about. And they’ll have been stopped in the street and told ‘you’ve got to beat Norwich’.

“We were really poor in the home game against them (1-0 loss last August) – they didn’t have to play well to win – so I think the players owe it to the fans and to themselves to put in a good performance this time.”

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The Scot, who still lives in Suffolk and is a regular at Portman Road, continued: “I’m going on Sunday and might have to take a minder with me! I used to love playing in these games after all the build-up.

“For the most part we had the bragging rights when I was playing. They were giving it the big one about being in the Premier League recently and now it’s a level playing field again.

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“I know it’s the old cliche, but I do think the form book goes out the window for derby matches. It generally comes down to who wants it most.”

He added: “I was one of the few people who thought we would finish above Norwich at the start of the season. I just really fancied us with Mick (McCarthy) in charge.

“I was hoping we’d be a few more points ahead of them come this game, but they have started to hit form under their new manager (five successive wins under Alex Neil) and are right on our tails.

“I think Derby and Norwich have got the best two squads in the division and, no doubt about it, this is going to be a really hard game for us. The bottom line is we have to go there and make sure we don’t lose.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both teams ended up in the top two.”

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