Russell aims to say thanks to fans
Chris Lakey Darel Russell has an unbeaten record in derby matches against the old enemy - and wants to keep it that way as a thank you for Norwich City's fans.“It's a good record - and one I intend to keep,” said the Canaries midfielder, who is well aware that success at Portman Road on Sunday would go some way to rewarding City's long-suffering fans for a season of turmoil.
Darel Russell has an unbeaten record in derby matches against the old enemy - and wants to keep it that way as a thank you for Norwich City's fans.
“It's a good record - and one I intend to keep,” said the Canaries midfielder, who is well aware that success at Portman Road on Sunday would go some way to rewarding City's long-suffering fans for a season of turmoil.
“This means a lot to use - for the fans. It is a great game, obviously. It is a big game to play in and of course you want to do well in those games because the fans are going to be rooting for you because it is such an important game for them.
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“So I think knowing that you are playing for them gives you a massive edge and gives you an incentive to do that much better - as well as it being a derby and having that derby atmosphere around it.
“The fans want to be able to have bragging rights - this one's happening later on in the season so you don't have as much of the season to brag about it, but if I was a fan I'd want those bragging rights without a doubt.
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“If you work with Ipswich supporters you can go to work and give them a bit of stick for the next couple of months if we get the result. That would top it off for them and give them a great thing to cheer.”
The Canaries midfielder, in his second spell at Carrow Road, has played in four games against the Tractor Boys - drawing three and winning one, when Iwan Roberts scored a famous brace at Portman Road back in March, 2000.
The midfielder is likely to be one of only three locally-produced players who feature in Sunday's squad - with striker Jamie Cureton and defender Jason Shackell following the same path through the ranks.
But even though manager Glenn Roeder is likely to involve a clutch of loan players, Russell is adamant that everyone understands the importance of the game.
“I think they do - and if they don't at this minute in time, then I think with the build-up and the hype this week going into the game I am quite sure they will be dragged along into the whole day out and what it means,” he said.
“There will be a lot of people around the town speaking to players if they see them and telling them that they want to win this weekend. So I think the whole air and sense around the city will encourage anyone and even if you don't understand fully what it means you will be dragged along this week in the whole hype about the game.
“Everyone is already up for the next game. We enjoyed a great win on Saturday and then you can't wait for the next game. It seems a million miles away - you could probably get another game in between now and Sunday - and everyone just wants to play games, that's the highlight of the week.
“We have to wait that extra day this week, which will be frustrating, but every one of the players was looking forward to it straight after the Burnley game.”
What adds extra spice to Sunday's game - the 89th meeting between the sides in all competitions - are the very different implications for both teams. If Norwich win, it eases their relegation worries even further - but hinders Ipswich's play-off ambitions.
“We both have reasons for wanting to win the game, for matters at different ends of the table, but also for pride as well,” said Russell.
“It has such implications - they will be wanting to try and beat us and try and give us a problem in terms of relegation, but we will be wanting to beat them in terms of stopping them trying to make that promotion push for themselves, so there are so many others factors riding on this game, not just pride. It is going to make it very, very big game and if that can't get you up for it I don't think anyone anything else can.”
City go into the derby on the back of an impressive 2-0 win over play-off hopefuls Burnley - while Ipswich suffered a 2-0 defeat at bottom club Colchester and face a tricky home game against FA Cup finalists Cardiff at Portman Road tomorrow .
“We are playing as we are training at the moment,” Russell added. “We are training at such tempo and such speed that it's been frightening. The way we went out and played Saturday, attacking wise - we were attacking so quickly it was fantastic and a testament to what we'd been doing in training all week.”
Russell played the full 90 minutes, having failed to reappear for the second half at Bristol City the previous weekend when he was struggling to breathe because of asthmatic problems.
“I have been a sufferer from my early years here at Norwich,” he explained.
“I have a thing called exercise induced asthma, that when I begin exercise it can bring on asthma, so I have to take an inhaler, which I use before matches. When I was ill the previous week I think it was hangover from the cold and flu that was on my chest and caused me a lot of problems breathing.
“I have to be careful, but I don't think about it too much. I don't like to class it as a weakness physically because obviously we're physically fit people, but it can cause problems in extreme cold or extreme heat. I not to let it faze me too much but it got the better of me at Bristol.”
The asthma isn't the reason Russell wears gloves though.
“No - I have always had bad knuckles, bad hands, when the cold gets to them,” he said. “I hate being distracted by the cold on my hands so I wear gloves.”