Leon: City need a hero

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 10 September 2010

Paddy Davitt

Leon McKenzie is urging Norwich's latest crop to make themselves derby day heroes in Sunday's Championship test at Portman Road.

McKenzie carved out his own niche in derby folklore with a debut brace to sink Town 2-0 back in December 2003 during the Canaries' march to the Premiership.

Leon McKenzie is urging Norwich's latest crop to make themselves derby day heroes in Sunday's Championship test at Portman Road.

McKenzie carved out his own niche in derby folklore with a debut brace to sink Town 2-0 back in December 2003 during the Canaries' march to the Premiership.

And the 29-year-old is backing his former side to triumph and write a fresh chapter in the latest cross-border clash.

“I'll never forget that game,” said McKenzie. “It was a lovely moment in my career to make my debut and score a couple of goals.

“It was an important time of the season. I think it put us top of the table that day as well so it was massive for us.

“Maybe people in the rest of the country don't realise how big a game this is - but the rivalry is there.

“It means so much to the fans but the players also get caught up in these games as well. I've still got a lot of affection for the club. I loved the fans but I had to leave for personal reasons at the time.

“That was football. Most of the lads I knew have moved on as well but I still speak regularly to Hucks to see how things are going.”

McKenzie warns City will have to be at their best to get anything from Ipswich's backyard. After last night's 1-1 draw with Cardiff play-off chasing Watford remain the only side to storm the Portman Road fortress to pocket three league points this season.

“It's going to be a difficult game,” said McKenzie. “If Norwich can go there, nick an early goal and be positive then they can win.

“They've got to keep the likes of Pablo Counago and Danny Haynes quiet because they are a serious goal threat. If you look beyond those two I think the teams are well matched.

“You could look at the table and see Ipswich going for promotion but form goes out of the window - even with Ipswich being so strong at home.

“Norwich seem to be heading in the right direction. One more win for me and they would definitely be safe although it's still so tight down there at the bottom.”

McKenzie has had to endure a watching brief for his own club's relegation battle after a ruptured thigh cut short his season in December.

“It's been a nightmare for me - another tough, tough season,” he said. “I'd started off on fire even though I had a couple of minor injury hiccups on the way. I was playing on the left of midfield mainly but then against Southampton it felt like I'd picked up a dead leg. It turned out to be a ruptured thigh and that has kept me out for four months.

“I think it's probably it for me for the season now. I've just started to build things up again but I want to get ready for next season. I'm a fighter and these things are sent to test you so I will come through it and out the other side. I'm looking forward not back.”

McKenzie is convinced his short term future is in the Championship - despite the Sky Blues' currently hovering only three points above the drop zone ahead of promotion-chasing Stoke's weekend visit to the Ricoh.

“We need one more win but you just don't know,” he said. “Chris Coleman has come in and he has his own ideas like the new chairman. They are very positive and the boss knows what he wants. I think there'll be a few new faces over the summer.”

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