Matt Holland backs young Ipswich Town duo for derby

Connor Wickham
Wickham has scored eight times in 38 games this season

Ipswich Town's youngsters will rise to the challenge of the East Anglian derby, according to Portman Road legend Matt Holland.

Striker Connor Wickham, 18, and 17-year-old winger Josh Carson are in line to start against Norwich on Thursday.

And Holland does not expect the pair to be overwhelmed on derby day.

"I don't have any fears the occasion will over awe them - so far in their fledgling careers I think they've been excellent," he told BBC Radio Suffolk.

"We've seen already they've given some mature performances since coming into the team and they look as if they're ready.

"I think it's one they can relish, one they can enjoy. There's no extra pressure in terms of league position."

Wickham and Carson have belied their years in recent weeks, scoring five goals between them in Town's last four outings.

Matt Holland Phil Mulryne
Holland played in eight East Anglian derbies

Holland, who faced the Canaries eight times in an Ipswich shirt, has refused to write off Town's chances of making a late charge for the play-offs.

Paul Jewell's side are six points adrift of the top six with four games to play.

But Holland reckons his own experience with the club in the 1997/98 season shows it can be done.

"We were third from bottom at Christmas and we went on a run where we lost one game in 23," said Holland, who played 321 times for Ipswich.

"We shot up the table and into the play-offs, so it is possible.

"The run Ipswich have been on has been excellent and the form is good.

"We go into the game in good spirits - a win on Thursday and all of a sudden the picture can change again."

You can see Matt Holland on Late Kick Off East at 2305 BST on Monday, 18 April on BBC One.