City boss pleased with pre-season progressALEX Neil is determined for his Norwich City side to hit the ground running when they visit Gorleston in their first pre-season game on Saturday (3pm).
City step up their preparation for August's Barclays Premier League opener against Crystal Palace by facing the The Greens at Emerald Park, ahead of making trips to Hitchin Town and Cambridge United over the course of the next seven days.
The match provides an ideal opportunity to take the groundwork to the next level according to Neil, who told canaries.co.uk: "It will be good to see the boys get back out there and get started.
"We’ve done a few mini-games between ourselves, and I’m sure the players are looking forward to it. Our pre-season is going very well so far; everyone has come through unscathed so that’s the most important thing.
"They’ve all got their work done, so we’re looking good. To be honest, certainly this season, it’s more of a concern whether they’ve had enough rest rather than their fitness levels being good enough.
"The time-frame between us finishing the play-offs and this pre-season starting is short, so that’s my main concern – giving them enough time off so they’re recovered from last year mentally as much as anything else.
"You've got to have your base in terms of fitness but I'm sure the players are looking forward to the games."
The majority of the Canaries squad recently spent a week at the Football Association's St George's Park before returning to Colney Training Centre to continue their pre-season schedule.
However, Neil believes matches offer the ultimate form of preparation for both individuals and the squad as a whole, and added: "It will be good for the team to get a touch of the ball again.
"It's about getting minutes under your belt and getting the hard work in, without picking up injuries. That's the most important thing, however, we want to win every game so need to give a good account of ourselves."
"If we do that, then it's a good stepping-stone for us to use in the build-up to our opening league game."
After leading the Canaries to promotion via a play-off final victory at Wembley Stadium last term, the 34-year-old is eager to capitalise on the positive vibes.
The memories of a historic success over Middlesbrough remain fresh, and Neil said: "Everyone is in good spirits and training really hard to get themselves ready.
"When you end the season as well as we did, there’s always going to be a feel-good factor. Certainly, the year before - following relegation - players would have been coming into it feeling a bit downbeat.
"It’s the complete opposite now, with the Club being in the Premier League. You can see how much effort the players are putting in, because they desperately want to be part of it.
"That can only bode well for everyone, so hopefully it continues."
PRE-SEASON AT CARROW ROAD
West Ham United, Tuesday, July 28, 7:45pm
Brentford, Saturday, August 1, 3pm
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