Reporter notebook: Ipswich aim to end hoodoo against rivals Norwich in bid for Premier League promotion

Ipswich go to fierce rivals Norwich in a crunch East Anglian derby with the Tractor Boys top of the Championship and bidding for Premier League promotion; watch Norwich City vs Ipswich Town live on Sky Sports Football from 12pm on Saturday; kick-off 12.30pm.

“There is no doubt about it, it’s happening – up the Town!”

That was the message from one fan in the Ipswich club shop at Portman Road on Thursday, when I asked them how confident they were about promotion from the Championship.

Another fan was effusive about the atmosphere at recent games.

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“I’ve been supporting Ipswich since 1953 and I’ve not heard Portman Road like that in a long, long time,” he said.

He is referring to the noise created by the Ipswich fans when they had a euphoric moment as Jeremy Sarmiento expertly toe-poked a 97th-minute winner against Southampton in their dramatic 3-2 win on Easter Monday.

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship clash between Ipswich and Southampton

The goal felt like a pivotal moment in an enthralling title race. It returned Ipswich to the top of the table and continued an impressive run of nine wins in their last 10 league games.

But Ipswich have needed to be that good with Leicester and Leeds on their tail – both sides also showed what they can do on Easter Monday with vital wins of their own.

As Ipswich prepare for the huge East Anglian derby, it does not feel like there has been a bigger derby in a long time. Partly because they actually have not played each that much due to Norwich yo-yoing between the Premier League and Championship while Ipswich lingered in League One.

Nevertheless, despite not being part of much of the derby’s more recent memories, McKenna and the rest of the squad are aware of the unwanted records. No wins at Carrow Road in the league since 2006, no wins against Norwich in the league full stop since 2009.

This derby is different, though. Both sides have so much to compete for on top of the usual spice of an intense rivalry.

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Kieran McKenna chats to Sky Sports about his promotion hopes with Ipswich, the future of the club and the form of Leif Davis and Omari Hutchinson

The Canaries, who go into the weekend sixth and looking to cement their play-off spot, could put a huge dent in their rivals’ promotion hopes. So, with so much at stake, the history of this rivalry to repair for Ipswich – does that heighten expectation?

Well, I put that to McKenna and he gave a great philosophical answer. “We don’t need extra motivation, but it’s maybe a different kind of motivation,” he said about what is at stake in this particular match.

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Kieran McKenna says promotion to the Premier League would not change his approach as a manager and he’s not allowing himself to be distracted

As I reflected on my day in Ipswich, one thing is definite – in McKenna’s relatively short space of time, he has made the fans, players and everyone connected to Ipswich believe once again.

While their fans will be dreaming of Premier League football, I think McKenna put his ethos across perfectly after their late win against Southampton.

“It’s not our job to dream, it’s our job to do,” he said, and they could ‘do’ something incredible come the end of season by returning to the Premier League after a 22-year absence. They will take a huge step in doing so if they get past their fierce rivals this weekend.

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