Wes Hoolahan highlighted as Norwich City's East Anglian derby dangerman by Ipswich Town

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 February 2017

Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan

Norwich City midfielder Wes Hoolahan

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Wes Hoolahan has been pin-pointed as Norwich City's key man by Ipswich Town ahead of Sunday's East Anglian derby at Carrow Road (12pm ko, Sky Sports).

The creative midfielder, now 34, has featured in seven of these fixtures and never been on the losing side. He could return to the Canaries’ starting line-up after impressing as a half-time substitute in last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Burton.

“Cameron Jerome is always a threat with his power and pace, they’ve got (Alex) Pritchard, the two Murphy brothers, while (Jonny) Howson is the unsung one, but Hoolahan is the one for me,” said McCarthy.

“He’s a very clever footballer – if he plays and turns it on then they generally play well,”

Those were thoughts echoed by Blues striker David McGoldrick, someone who knows Hoolahan well through international football.

“I’m a massive fan of his,” he enthused. “He’s one of the best I’ve played with. In training for Ireland he’s a magician, you can’t get the ball off him.

“We’re going to have to be very wary of him because in big games he does come alive. He still should be in the Premiership in my eyes because I think he’s a wonderful player.

“I’m not the gaffer, but for me he’s their key man. If you give him time on the ball and let him play he will punish you, so that is something we have to deal with.

“He’s a good lad, I get on with him, but all that goes out the window on Sunday.”

It’s been a frustratingly inconsistent season for Town, but a change to a wing-back system, January additions and return to fitness of McGoldrick have all been factors in an upturn in form. Since the limp 3-0 home loss to Derby on January 31 the Blues have gone unbeaten in a tough run of games – 2-2 at home to Reading, 1-0 win at Aston Villa, 1-1 at Brighton and 1-1 at home to Leeds.

“Prior to those four games we’d have probably taken the points and performances we’ve got out,” said McCarthy. “I’ll still take the performances, but actually I’m disappointed we didn’t get more points.

“We had really good chances at Brighton, I thought we were the better team against Reading and certainly against Leeds we were the team that was going to win it.”

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