Prospect of playing Norwich City is no longer such a daunting thought for Ipswich Town

Freddie Sears (right) is congratulated by skipper Luke Chambers after scoring to put Town 1-0 ahead

Freddie Sears (right) is congratulated by skipper Luke Chambers after scoring to put Town 1-0 ahead in the Ipswich Town v Leeds United (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 18 February 2017. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The thought of playing bitter rivals Norwich City at the end of a sequence of Championship games that included Reading, Aston Villa, Brighton and Leeds, was enough to send a shudder down the spines of the most optimistic of Ipswich Town fans.

The team were on the ropes, following a horrible 3-0 home defeat to Derby and the humiliating upset at the hands of non-league Lincoln in the FA Cup, and were too close for comfort at the bottom of the table.

As the Derby game was taking place, Town were completing the low-profile signings of Dominic Samuel and Emyr Huws, on-loan from Reading and Cardiff respectively.

Whilst Samuel’s stint at Portman Road has not yet gone according to plan, the striker suffering a broken toe in one of his first training sessions, Huws has taken the bull by the horns, having sacrificed a chunk of his wages to force a move out of Wales.

Huws, along with fellow loan signing, Toumani Diagouraga, has been a major factor in the Blues’ recent turnaround, which sees them unbeaten in four games, having won at Villa – Steve Bruce’s side’s first home defeat of the season – and taken creditable draws against Reading, Brighton and Leeds.

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The arrivals of Huws and Diagouraga, added to the match-winning ability of Tom Lawrence, who is suspended for Sunday’s game, and the fit-again David McGoldrick have seen the shackled removed from the Suffolk side, Mick McCarthy’s men suddenly playing with purpose and precision.

They are also playing with more passion, a cliché in footballing in terms, but the mood has lifted amongst the players, led by inspirational skipper Luke Chambers, a survivor of the play-off defeat to the Canaries in 2015.

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The pain of that defeat still lingers for the likes of Chambers, Cole Skuse, Christophe Berra and McGoldrick and that determination to put things right, an upturn in form and the fact the pressure is off Town, who haven’t won a derby in almost eight years, and squarely on Norwich, who should be in the promotion reckoning, will make the Blues a dangerous proposition at Carrow Road.

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