Huckerby ready for a rough ride

Chris Lakey Darren Huckerby has issued a challenge to Ipswich Town fans ahead of tomorrow's derby clash - bring it on.

Chris Lakey

Darren Huckerby has issued a challenge to Ipswich Town fans ahead of tomorrow's derby clash - bring it on.

The Canaries winger is certain to be the home fans' number one hate figure at Portman Road, but Huckerby says it just inspires him to greater things.

And on the day he makes his 200th appearance for City, the fans' reaction could backfire on the Tractor Boys.

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"It's not just there, it's everywhere," said Huckerby, who was sent off in the final minutes when the teams drew 2-2 at Carrow Road back in November.

"I think teams see me as someone who can do damage to them.

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"They can boo all they want, it doesn't really bother me. I actually quite enjoy it to be honest. If they boo me it means I've got in their head a little bit so it's not a big problem to me."

But while Huckerby doesn't mind what comes out of the terraces, he's hoping the pitch battle will be played on a better surface than the one that greeted the Canaries when the teams met in Suffolk last season.

"Last time it was the worst pitch I'd ever played on," he said.

"In 15 years it was by far the worst - and that's including non-league grounds. I have played at every level of English football and on that day it is possibly the worst pitch I have ever played on.

"It was verging on dangerous. Hopefully it is better than it was then. It looks like it is, I think it's bedding in now. It was atrocious last time."

So is the stage set for a remarkable starring role for Huckerby, whose own future at City is, as yet, unclear?

"Obviously people have been saying that all week," he said. "If this is going to be my last derby it would be nice to go out on a high.

"It is just funny how it has fallen - after five years it has fallen on this game. Sometimes these things are meant to be.

"I think it's a big achievement. I have played a lot of games and it's only really this season where I've had a lot of injuries, so I have been very lucky.

"It could have been any game really. We will go for the win - they need the win as well so it's going to be interesting.

"I think form goes out of the window, it is just a matter of who plays really well on the day. We're a completely different set-up from the one that played last time.

"We are in a bit of a transition now and that is going to be the case for the next two or three months so it is interesting times at Norwich.

"The gaffer came in and started a clear-out as soon as he came in and this is completely different to before. We are playing with more confidence than we were then as well, and we are in a different league position than we were then."

Huckerby's own form has shown a marked improvement too, having shrugged off the worst effects of the hip injury that plagued him in the early part of the campaign.

"I feel like I am getting stronger with each game and it's nice just to be feeling free when I run," he said. "Earlier on in the season I wasn't feeling at all like myself and we did things to make that better.

"For the time being it's going well, touch wood. It's not like I'm 21, 22 where I have to carry it through another 15 years, I can do what I need to do."

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