Boss: "It's a huge game for both clubs"ALEX Neil says belief is high in the Norwich City camp ahead of Friday’s ‘huge’ head-to-head with Middlesbrough (7.45pm).
The Canaries enter the televised home game on the back of a five-match winning streak that has kept them in the top two for what looks set to be one of the Sky Bet Championship’s most thrilling promotion climaxes in recent years.
Middlesbrough are only a point adrift of Neil’s men in fourth place, and he didn’t play down the significance of the high-stakes contest at Carrow Road.
“It’s a huge game for both clubs. Whichever team comes out on top, if there is a winner, will have a huge advantage going into the remaining two games,” he said.
“We’re really confident, we’re in a good place the moment. We know what our task is, and if we play at our full potential, then we can beat anyone in the league. We’ve got to make sure we hit those heights in the game tomorrow night.
“For both teams, a win is what is needed. We’ll go into the game with the approach of trying to do that, and I’m sure they will be the same. It should make for an entertaining game hopefully.
“I think the boys deserve as many of the fans to turn up as they can, and for them to be as vocal as they can and give them their backing.”
Watford’s 3-1 triumph at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday drew them level with the Canaries, with league leaders Bournemouth just a single point ahead of the pair.
All three have picked up maximum points across the last three rounds of fixtures, but Neil is focussing his players’ attentions on their own targets.
“I expected that to be the case. If it wasn’t, then good, but our task is to and win our next three remaining games. We need to start that on Friday, that’s our sole focus now – making sure that we go and put a good performance in,” he told Norwich City TV.
“We recognise how hard we’ve worked to get to this situation. This game will go a long way in deciding the fate of all four of the top teams. We’ve got to make sure that we keep doing what we’ve been doing, and hopefully go on and try and get the points.
“Middlesbrough are stubborn and difficult to play against. They’re well organised, and I think they’re a counter-attacking team.
“We’ll need to make sure we move the ball crisply when we’ve got it, and that we guard against them breaking when they do.”
Neil says he will make a late call on whether to include Lewis Grabban (ankle) in his squad after the striker limped out of the warm-up before Tuesday’s game at Leeds United.
Bradley Johnson is available after serving his two-match suspension, yet City’s boss says he has an entire squad of eager players to select from.
“They’re all desperate to play, whether it’s Bradley or anybody else. They’re desperate to be in the starting eleven and show their worth to the team,” he added.
“It’s about picking the right combinations and making sure I’m putting out the right side to win that particular game. If that includes Bradley, then so be it – if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.
“It’s a great situation for me to be in, it’s a great situation for the squad to be in as well.”
Under-21s vs Everton, Monday April 20, 7pm
GET YOUR FREE TICKETS HERE