Will it be Huckerby’s final derby fling?

Darren Huckerby's future as a Norwich City player was still undecided today - at least publicly - as he looked forward to his 200th appearance for the club.

Darren Huckerby's future as a Norwich City player was still undecided today - at least publicly - as he looked forward to his 200th appearance for the club.

Huckerby looks a certain starter for tomorrow's Coca-Cola Championship match against Ipswich Town at Portman Road after recapturing much of his old sparkle in the last few games.

Whether his seventh East Anglian derby will also be his last for the Canaries is the question on everybody's lips, but neither the star forward nor manager Glenn Roeder were able or willing to provide the answer at Colney yesterday.

Huckerby insisted after last week's 2-0 home win over Burnley that he was still in the dark over whether a new contract would be on offer when his existing deal runs out at the end of the season, although he did hint at some kind of future role at Carrow Road.

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“You know as much as I do,” he told reporters. “That's the honest truth. No one's spoken to me. I'm not trying to put the club under any pressure. If they want to do something, they can do it, if they don't they don't.

“I hope I haven't got to prove anything now. If the club came to me and said 'That's it, Darren, we've had a great time' that's life and I wouldn't hold any grudges. I see myself working for the club some way down the line in the years to come so it's not a problem to me either way.”

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But, as far as the next 24 hours is concerned, the double player of the season winner - who will celebrate his 32nd birthday later this month on St George's Day - would like nothing more than to put the old enemy to the sword one more time. He could hardly wish for anything better on the day he reaches a City milestone.

“People have been saying that all week. I suppose if this is going to be the last East Anglian derby it would be nice to go out on a high,” he said yesterday.

“It's funny after five years how it's fallen on this game. Sometimes things are meant to be.

“It could have been any game really but it's Ipswich away, so we'll see what happens.”

What happened two seasons ago at Ipswich was that Huckerby's goal gave City a 1-0 win after he came on as a half-time substitute for Dean Marney.

“It's strange because I was on the bench to start off with and came on at half-time,” he recalled. “I wasn't too happy to be on the bench but it turned out well in the end and I hope I can have the same kind of feeling after this game.

“The atmosphere makes it a special occasion. It's only three points but it's nice to beat your rivals.”

Huckerby said the hip injury that troubled him for much of the season, and which required an injection in January, was not currently a problem.

“I feel like I'm getting stronger with each game and it's nice just to be feeling free when I run. Earlier in the season I wasn't feeling at all like myself,” he said.

“It's not like I'm 21, 22, where I've got to carry it for another 15 years, so I can do what I need to do.”

Though City staged a tremendous fightback to draw 2-2 with Town in Roeder's first game in charge in November, Huckerby - sent off in the closing moments of that game - believes they are a different proposition now.

“The gaffer started a clear-out as soon as he came in so this is completely different to the time before,” he said.

“We're in a bit of a transition now and that's going to be the case for the next two or three months so it's interesting times for Norwich.”

As to whether Huckerby would be offered a new deal in that period, Roeder insisted: “I haven't made a decision on anybody. None of that has been thought about.

“There has only been one project since I came to the club and that is to make sure we stay in the Championship, which was looking pretty bleak with eight points.”

Asked whether Huckerby's improved performances reflected a desire for a new deal, Roeder said: “I think he's just playing because he loves playing football. He loves his training. He's hit a bit of form at the right time of the season and we need him to stay strongly in that rich vein of form in terms of end product for us in these last four games.

“There's a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He's proved in the past that he has been able to carry it off. He's got to carry it off on Sunday. “He's forever telling everybody how much he loves the club and he loves the shirt and he loves the badge and everything. He's one of the players everyone looks to - and has done in the past - to make the difference and hopefully he can make the difference on Sunday.”

Huckerby knows he can expect a hot reception from the natives at a hostile Portman Road, but takes it as a compliment. “I think they see me as someone who can do damage to them, so they can boo all they want,” he said. “It doesn't really bother me. I actually quite enjoy it. To be honest, if they're booing me it means I've got in their heads a little bit, so it's not a big problem to me. I hope they boo me then if I do get the winner . . .”

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