Neil: We know what our task isNORWICH City must ‘rise to the challenge’ as the Sky Bet Championship season nears its climax.
That’s the view of Alex Neil, who leads his team into this Saturday’s promotion clash with Derby County (3pm) knowing they need to continue to produce their best form between now and May.
Ahead of the game, the Canaries’ boss spoke exclusively to Norwich City TV.
“The intensity is going to be cranked up between now and the end of the season,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure that we rise to that challenge, and that starts against Derby. It’s a crucial game, a top of the table clash, so we need to make sure we’re on it on Saturday.
“You can’t afford to have an off day any more. We’ve had one or two since I came in, and out of 12 games that’s not too bad, but we’ll be looking to improve on that in the next ten games.
“We’ve prepared well for the game, we know exactly what our task is and how we’re going to go about it, and it’s just about performing on the day now.”
City will be boosted by the returns of Sebastien Bassong (knee) and Alex Tettey (suspension) as they look to leapfrog their visitors in the table with victory at Carrow Road.
Derby are winless in three but Neil believes points aren’t indicative of their true form.
“If you look at the games they’ve lost, they’ve been dominant in the match,” he commented.
“Their possession stats have been good and they’ve had a lot of shots at goal, they’ve just not had that rub of the green or that final bit of quality to see them over the line. We’re obviously hoping that continues tomorrow.
“We’re the home team, we’ve got to go and try and win the game. I think Derby don’t really play any other way, if I’m being honest. They’re quite an attacking team with the players that they’ve got.
“We’re going to have to make sure first of all that we put our game onto them and try and dictate it if we can. Hopefully if we can do that, we can limit their opportunities.”
On Thursday, Michael Turner completed an emergency loan move to Fulham until the end of the season, and on that news Neil added: “The thinking was that Michael wasn’t getting any game time.
“He was getting a bit frustrated and he wanted to play some football. In terms of that area, we’re well covered. We’ve got Carlos Cuellar, Ryan Bennett and Ignasi Miquel.
“Michael’s game time was limited, and I felt it was important for him that he went and played somewhere.”
SPECIAL ISSUE OF 'OTBC' FOR MILK CUP REUNION WEEKEND
As the Canaries mark the 30th anniversary of the Club’s Milk Cup victory at Wembley, this weekend’s official programme for the Sky Bet Championship match with Derby County carries an exclusive interview with Wembley winner Mick Channon.
To mark the 30th anniversary reunion weekend, there will also be a full reproduction of the official programme from the 1985 Wembley final included with Saturday's programme. This bumper 132-page dual-cover souvenir issue will be priced at £4.
To buy it online, CLICK HERE.