Town boss Jim Magilton has all but admitted it is now or never for the Suffolk side as they face two, huge home games that will, in every likelihood, define their season.
For as the Canaries relax and rest their weary limbs up at Colney this week ahead of this Sunday's derby trip to Portman Road, so Town entertain FA Cup finalists Cardiff City tonight before facing up to the old enemy at the weekend.
And all on the back of Saturday's painful 2-0 defeat away at near-doomed Colchester United. It is a big, big week for Magilton and his troops as the race for that sixth and final play-off spot heads down the finishing straight.
Should Watford do the Canaries a big favour and beat Barnsley tonight, it would leave the top five clubs away and clear of the following pack. The Hornets are already eight points distant of Town going into tonight's games; in effect, there is just one play-off spot left up for grabs. And having been there or thereabouts for the vast majority of the season, Magilton is desperate to be there in the mix at the end.
The prospect of the neighbours over-turning the play-off apple cart – and will a huge trip to fellow play-off hopefuls Wolves to follow on the following Saturday – would be too much to bear. Hence why Magilton and Company need to see these two home games yield the full six points.
?We've got two home games and if we can win both then I'll be very pleased come Monday morning,? said Magilton in the run-up to this evening's game.
With an away trip to Preston North End squeezed between the Wolves trip and a home clash with automatic promotion hopefuls Hull City on the final day of the season, Magilton is well aware that Town's margin for error in almost nil.
?It's going to go to the wire but as long as we're still in with a shout come the Hull game (on the last day of the season) then I'll be pleased,” he said. ?If we can secure it before then that would be magnificent but we know that's not going to be the case ? we always seem to do things the hard way.”
Given the clutch of clubs snapping at Town's heels – and the fact that both Crystal Palace and Wolves are currently ahead of them in the table – you strongly suspect that it will all be decided on the final day of the season.
North of the border and the Canaries look as if they still just need the one win to see them stumble over the finishing line as Glenn Roeder's 'Great Escape' reaches its own climax. To do it at Portman Road would, clearly, be the dream scenario for City supporters – particularly if it left Town with the proverbial mountain to climb in terms of their own play-off hopes.
?There's everything to play for and we've still got a wonderful opportunity,” stressed Magilton, well aware that in the psychological battle-ground that is a derby fixture the weight of expectation is firmly on Suffolk's shoulders. Particularly if tonight's clash with the Wembley-bound Bluebirds fails to yield the three points they desperately need.
“We don't want to put them under any more pressure than has been built up, but they've got to go out and perform,? said Magilton.
Town's task is not made any easier by the fact that Cardiff arrive tonight flying after their Wembley semi-final triumph over Barnsley on Sunday. Invariably after such a historic high for the South Wales side, a case of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show…' sets in and reality bites.
Back at Ninian Park and Bluebirds boss Dave Jones wasn't ruling out a third trip to Wembley this season – if Cardiff could make their two games in hand count.
?It's no good thinking, well that's it, Wembley here we come that is our season done and dusted,” Jones told the icWales website.
?We don't want to spoil things by slipping up in the league and, hopefully, the players will react to what we have to say to them.”
Cardiff are currently 13th in the table. Three points tonight would leave them just another three points shy of sixth-placed Crystal Palace and all with a game in hand on the Eagles.
For watching Canary fans, the fact that the Bluebirds are just four points better off than the Norfolk side going into this evening's game at Portman Road merely proves once more how little there is to choose between any of these teams. After all, courtesy of Ched Evans' block-buster, Norwich came away with all three points from their last trip to the Ninian.
Likewise, despite West Bromwich Albion's late, late show last night you wouldn't be unduly worried by the Baggies' arrival at Carrow Road in 11 days time.
?There have been indifferent results the whole season in the Championship and that continues to be the way,? said the Cardiff manager, speaking for every one of his Championship counterparts.
?But, while we're still in the pack with a chance, we will keep that dream going. If we win tonight and then win on Saturday at home to Blackpool, then the table will become very interesting indeed with just a few games left, so it's still everything still to play for,” added Jones.
?The play-offs are still there for us. While we still have two games in hand on our rivals, we'll keep fighting for that sixth play-off spot.?
Team-wise and Magilton may well be without big-money window signing David Norris who has picked up a heel injury, while the returning Shefki Kuqi has a hamstring complaint. Both are due to have scans later in the week to determine whether they could be involved for the Norwich clash on Sunday.
Bar the usual suspects of Adam Drury and Luke Chadwick, Roeder is expected to be able to select from a fully-fit – and fully rested – squad.
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