Meanwhile, over the border in Ipswich the new boss is relishing the early derby
PUBLISHED: 16:44 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 26 June 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Paul Hurst is excited to get an early crack at ending Ipswich Town's poor record against rivals Norwich City.
The new Blues boss begins his reign at home to Blackburn on August 4, but is already eyeing the clash with the Canaries at Portman Road, which is likely to be moved to September 2 and its traditional Sunday lunchtime slot.
The Blues have not beaten Norwich since 2009, a run stretching back 10 games, with Hurst pleased to have an early opportunity to put that right in what will be just his third game in charge.
“I was hoping for a home game to start my career at Ipswich Town and that’s what we’ve got,” Hurst said.
“I’m very familiar with Blackburn after trying to challenge them last season for promotion to the Championship, so one I’m really looking forward to.
“I understand Ipswich haven’t had the better of their local rivals for some time and that’s certainly a game I was looking forward to seeing when it is. Thankfully it’s early.
“If we could manage to get a victory then that would help me build a relationship with the supporters.
“On a personal level we’ve got a lot of good games for myself, in terms of Blackburn, my former club Rotherham who beat us in the play-off final not so long ago and Sheffield Wednesday, who I grew up supporting.
“We’ve got two play-off teams in Aston Villa and Derby in the first six as well.”
Hurst will be taking his Ipswich players to Spain ahead of the new campaign, with a camp replacing the Ireland visit which had become a regular fixture under Mick McCarthy.
“The lads are in today (Thursday) and tomorrow for some testing and then we start of everyone together on Monday,” Hurst said.
“We’ve got six days straight and then we’re off to Spain for a week where we will get some really hard training in the legs, with games starting after that. We’ve got MK Dons and Barnet but a showpiece game with West Ham prior to the start of the season kicking off. Some good games, different levels but for me it’s about getting to know the players and making them understand what our expectations are and how we want to play.”