Gunn backing for under-fire Magilton

David Cuffley City boss Bryan Gunn has backed his Ipswich Town counterpart to rise above the critics who have been calling for a change of manager.Jim Magilton is under pressure after the Blues missed out on a play-off place, thanks mainly to a poor home record of just six wins in 21 Championship games.

David Cuffley

City boss Bryan Gunn has backed his Ipswich Town counterpart to rise above the critics who have been calling for a change of manager.

Jim Magilton is under pressure after the Blues missed out on a play-off place, thanks mainly to a poor home record of just six wins in 21 Championship games.

But as the two sides prepare to meet in tomorrow's East Anglian derby, Gunn said Magilton - coming to the end of his third season in charge at Portman Road - would turn things round given the chance.

He said: “I think it is unfair. He's trying to do a job and there's a different type of pressure on Jim in the fact that he's got a new owner there who has invested new money. Whether they want an immediate return or not, I don't know, but Jim's big enough and brave enough to battle through that. I hope he does and I'm sure he will.

“He has good strength of character. With the coaching team behind him, there's a good set-up at the club.”

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Gunn and Magilton are old derby adversaries on the field and are set to meet for the first time in a managerial head-to-head.

“He's a great football guy, Jim. I know Jim and I've played golf with Jim. He's very competitive in whatever he does, he was as a player, he is as a manager, he is as a golfer," said Gunn.

“I am sure, like me, he'll be biting and scratching for every bit of confidence we can give to our players for Sunday's game.”

Gunn believes it is will suit the Canaries, out of the bottom three only on goal difference, to have such a huge fixture this weekend.

He said: “I think the bigger the game the better at the moment for our players.

“They've responded to the pressures that they have been under and during the season when they've played in big matches there's been a response, whether that be from the level of performance or the result achieved.

“I would hope that the size of this game will create the same sort of response that we've had in previous big games this season.

“There is a buzz. Monday's win over Watford started the creation of that and after the game in the dressing room it was a case of 'Play like that and we won't have any worries'. But now they've got to match those standards again and take those into a derby atmosphere and stand up to the away crowd, intimidation and battle their way through that.

“It is a great atmosphere. This is what you come into the game for, to play in stadiums with capacity crowds. I'm certainly looking forward to the atmosphere as well.

“This is as big a derby game as you will have come across in the last few years so I think the fact that it has come so late in the season will be a big test of our character in the way that we need to finish the season.”

Gunn has a fund of memories - good and bad - of taking on Town, but he said: “These are the big games, the ones that when you retire you look back and remember - and hopefully remember it for the right reasons, for the performance and the result and whether you've scored the winning goal or whether you saved a penalty or cleared one off the line.

“And that's not only for individuals, that's probably for fans as well. Fans might use this game to put it in the memory bank and it will feature in pub quizzes and conversations for many years to come and hopefully that will be for the right reasons for Norwich City fans.”

Full-back Ryan Bertrand was back in training yesterday, so apart from long-term casualties Dejan Stefanovic, Wes Hoolahan and Carl Cort, Gunn has a full strength squad to pick from.

For Town, Alex Bruce is expected to take the injured David Wright's place at right-back to make his 100th Town league appearance. Wright is on a total of 99 Town appearances, but will have to wait to next season to reach three figures.

Gareth McAuley (hamstring), Jon Walters (ankle) and Kevin Lisbie (dead leg) all trained yesterday and were to be assessed this morning, but Town Magilton said: “Moritz Volz has had an injection in his groin and we won't be seeing any more of him.”