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PLAY-OFF FINAL: THE MANAGER'S PREVIEW

22 May 2015

Boss: We are at full strength

ALEX Neil says his Norwich City players are ready to embrace a ‘special occasion’ as they make their last preparations for Monday’s Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

The Canaries will lock horns with Middlesbrough for a place in the Premier League, with close to 40,000 members of the Yellow Army in tow to Wembley.

Speaking on Friday, Neil – who took over as manager with the Club in seventh place in the division before leading them to third – says his players will leave nothing on the turf come the final whistle.

“For the players, don’t have any regrets. They’ve worked so hard to get to this point, it’s really important that we don’t fall at the final hurdle,” he told Norwich City TV.

“We’ve got to go and give it everything we’ve got, and I’m more than confident that we’ll do that.


“It will be a special occasion for everyone involved, but you want to have the memories of a win. The last thing you want to do is go there and be disappointed. We’ll try our very best to make sure that’s the case.

“We’re delighted that the supporters are turning up in their droves, and I hear that we could have sold 60,000. It just shows you the backing and the support that we’ve got, and hopefully we can give them a good day.

“It’s going to be fantastic. It will be great for myself, the players and everybody involved with the club. We’ve not been to Wembley in 30 years, so it will be a special occasion but it’s only special if you get across the line and win.”

Lewis Grabban is available to play after serving his three-match suspension, and Neil admits he will have some tough choices to make on team selection with a fully fit squad at his disposal.

“The rest of the guys have come through their other games fine. We’re at full strength, which is good, and it gives me some good decisions to make, so that’s pleasing as well,” he said.


“Lewis has played a big part in the success that we’ve had and obviously he’ll want to get involved in the remaining game. That will be a decision that I’ll need to make.

“We’re getting to the stage now where we’re getting to the final preparations for the game and the squad are getting ready. We’re relaxed at the moment, but it will build up as the game approaches.”

Opponents Middlesbrough beat City on both occasions during the regular season, and saw off Brentford 5-1 on aggregate in the semi-final as Neil’s men overcame local rivals Ipswich Town.

He insists he’s got every base covered when it comes to Aitor Karanka’s side, adding: “I’ve watched that much of them that there’s not that much more to learn. We know them inside and out. They’ve got good players in good areas of the pitch, but so have we.


“What you’re hoping is that our players can have more than an impact in the game than theirs, and I think that’s what is going to be the decisive factor on the day.

“I think we’ve got to start well. I don’t think we started the game at Carrow Road well enough, and I think the first goal will be important as well. If we start on the front foot and get ourselves into the lead, then that gives you the platform to build.”

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