Royle: Derby will decide nothing

BLUES boss Joe Royle tried to keep a lid on the potentially explosive derby day clash and last night insisted while it may be a high noon show-down it was not going to be judgement day for either side.

BLUES boss Joe Royle tried to keep a lid on the potentially explosive derby day clash and last night insisted while it may be a high noon show-down it was not going to be judgement day for either side, writes Derek Davis.

As supporters from both sides o the Norfolk/Suffolk border gear up for the mostly keenly awaited contests of the season, Royle was trying to keep things in perspective.

Results today will determine where City and Town are in Division One tomorrow but come Monday both will still be in the promotion hunt whatever the result.

What is clear is that Town will move to within a point of Norwich if they win but will slip behind them by seven points should they lose.


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Royle said: "There is East Anglian pride at stake and both sides will want to win the game.

"But we must not lose sight that there is only three points for it and whoever wins will not be promoted and whoever doesn't win won't be out of it.

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"It took us six games to go bottom, it has taken us 17 to get into the play-offs, now we have 23 games left to get where we want to be."

Preparation has been as normal as possible for Town whereas City have had many distractions.

Royle is reluctant to discuss the opposition but must be secretly delighted in the contrast of preparations.

He said: "I'm totally focused on us and our preparation has been good. Everyone is noisy, which is a good sign, and they are all full of themselves.

"It is just a shame a couple of players are going to be left out."

The starting line-up will be announced today after Royle has told the players this morning who will and who won't be playing in the sell-out clash.

Royle said: "There will be at least two disappointed players but that can't be helped.

"We have spent all season waiting to get players but now we have more than enough players."

Tommy Miller has had four wisdom teeth removed but has trained and will be pushing to make the 16. Richard Naylor is fully fit after recovering from a knee injury but may have to settle for a place on the bench with John McGreal and Georges Santos in possession of the starting positions at the moment.

Up front Pablo Counago is pressing for a recall alongside deadly strike partner Darren Bent, especially after Shefki Kuqi's disappointment at Millwall last week.

Royle said: "We have big choices in all three departments. Richard has been doing so well before getting injured and has every right to play. In midfield we have Alan Mahon, Tommy Miller and Martijn Reuser all threatening last week's side and up front there is Pablo, who has played a big part. They are nice but difficult choices."

No matter what, Town will stick to a 4-4-2 and force Norwich to meet them head-on.

Royle said: "I'm well aware that sides have changed their format to accommodate us and I take that as a compliment but I'm not so sure Norwich will. Hopefully they will have to play on the back foot. As their record shows we know they are hard to beat."

With a 10:1 ratio of supporters in Town's favour, Royle is hoping the 12th man can give the Blues that extra edge.

He said: "The crowd can play a massive part and I take us back to the game against Sheffield United last season when they won the game for us.

"There have been one or two games this season when our crowd has been quiet at home but that certainly won't apply on Sunday.

"The right to crow will be the big thing for them and I'm sure our crowd will be right behind us."

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