‘Nothing terrifies me’ – Mick McCarthy ready for East Anglian derby double in the Championship play-offs

Mick McCarthy at Ewood Park. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Mick McCarthy at Ewood Park. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Mick McCarthy has played and managed in enough fierce derby matches not to be phased by Ipswich Town facing regional rivals Norwich City in a two-legged Championship play-off semi-final.

After the cross-border clubs finishes sixth and third respectively, following a dramatic last day to the regular season, the Blues will host the Canaries at Portman Road on Saturday and then head to Carrow Road for the return match seven days later (both 12.15pm kos)

McCarthy’s personal play-off record is not good – he lost second tier semi-finals with Millwall, Sunderland and Wolves, the latter against fellow Midlands outfit West Brom. He also narrowly missed out on taking the Republic of Ireland to the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships via that format.

The experienced 56-year-old, whose numerous successes in the game more than make up for the aforementioned disappointments, has been around long enough to be overwhelmed by such high stakes occasions though.

“Nothing terrifies me in this game – I’ve had some big derbies in my time,” he said, speaking the wake of Saturday’s nerve-shredding 3-2 loss at Blackburn, the Blues only finishing sixth thanks to Reading’s 3-0 win at Derby.

“Celtic-Rangers was the biggest, there’s been Sunderland-Newcastle, Wolves-West Brom, Millwall-West Ham, Lyon-St Etienne is pretty spicy, Barnsley versus Huddersfield and other Yorkshire clubs.

“It’s not been great my play-off past, I have to be honest. Although I did get to a World Cup (2002) via a play-off (beating Iran over two legs).

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“None of that counts for anything now though. This is a new game, a new season. Facing Norwich is an unbelievable tie for us. There’s a lot at stake and I’m looking forward to it.

“They’ve beaten us twice (1-0 at Portman Road and 2-0 at Carrow Road) and some might think it will be an easy turnover for them, but anybody who knows anything about us will know that won’t be the case.”

Asked what he says to Blues fans who were keen to avoid Norwich in the semi-finals, McCarthy said: “I’m not bothered who we’re playing. I just want to win.

“There’s a huge prize for both teams. In two weeks’ time one of us is going to absolutely thrilled and the other will be bitterly disappointed.

“I just hope it’s going to be us that’s going to Wembley.”