Ipswich Town fan Russell Claydon praises the youngster prepared to get paint on his boots ahead of Derby Day

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MAUNDY Thursday kicks off the Easter period but this year is the one marked in East Anglia calendars not with a cross, but a big red circle: Derby Thursday.

And all Town fans will be hoping it is Norwich paying out on the day our Monarch traditionally undoes her own purse strings.

All season we have watched on as those chirpy Canaries up the A140 have proved the Championship’s surprise package while Ipswich have treaded water at the wrong end of the table.

But a new manager has seen the belief return at Portman Road and signals the dawn of a new era in the Old Farm Derby - looking to erase the pain of Roy Keane’s only miserable appearance in the fixture, a clueless 4-1 hiding at Carrow Road in November.

In a cauldron of noise at Portman Road, at the refreshing time of 7.45pm (agreed to avoid Bank Holiday train problems), there is a chance to be the ultimate party poopers..

Last time Norwich went up to the Premier League Town fans were taunted as they went top of the league at Portman Road (unfortunately the words perfectly fitted the well-known Tom Hark terrace ditty, played after every goal at the time).

Now all that is left of Town’s season/ boils down to one thing – stopping the Old Enemy in their automatic promotion pursuit.

While Norwich have shown the first signs of an end-of-season wobble, Ipswich have shown bags of character – coming from 3-1 down to draw with Middlesbrough on Tuesday and beating Crystal Palace 2-1 on Saturday to record three straight wins. Only one is likely to go into the game with promotion form, but it’s not set to be those in green and yellow.

After almost negotiating the impossible on his trip to Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, this is Paul Jewell’s first big test at the Ipswich helm, with a trip to Bristol City on Saturday a mere sideshow.

Danny Haynes was the Canary Crusher, but perhaps another youth product, Josh Carson, is now set to earn himself a place in East Anglian Derby history.

It’s been too long since the Blues had a player prepared to get paint on his boots by hugging the touchline - like Clive Woods, and in more recent times, Bobby Petta and Martijn Reuser.

Easter is the perfect time for Jewell, Clegg and Evans to hatch a plan for next season. And it’s not rocket science: knock the Canaries off their perch and watch those season ticket applications swell.