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28 October 2016

City boss looks ahead to Seagulls test

ALEX Neil wants his side to mix a lethal attacking touch with sturdiness in defence when they travel to Sky Bet Championship promotion rivals Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday (3pm).

The Canaries have found the net regularly so far this campaign, their 26 league goals from the first 14 games second only to Newcastle United's 30.

However, having not shut their opponents out in a match since mid-August, Neil is seeking an immediate upturn in fortunes in those terms.

"The difficulty we've got just now is it's coming from individual mistakes, from different individuals," he told Norwich City TV on Friday morning.

"That's a bit unusual so it's certainly something we've done a bit of work on. We've been speaking about it and need to see an improvement.

"If we want to be at the top end of the league, as the season progresses, we can't rely on the players at the top-end of the pitch to score two or three goals a game. We're going to have to start keeping some clean sheets.

"The players know they've done wrong. They recognise errors as soon as they're made, it's basically about stopping it so we're drilling them on that.

"At times as a players that's not something you like doing, but it's something we have to do until it improves. We're doing that at the moment, and it will continue that way."

Brighton's approach almost directly contrasts that of City's; their matches generally being low-scoring affairs settled by the odd goal.

"They're going to be a hard team to beat because what they're good at is keeping clean sheets," Neil outlined when offering his thoughts on the Seagulls.

"I think they've conceded nine or ten less goals than us, but we've scored nine or ten goals more than them. It might be a case of attack versus defence, if you like.

"We want to be better defensively than what we have been, as a team. Meanwhile, we want to continue having that threat at the other end of the pitch.

"That's a delicate balance as we want to score goals. We deem that one of our strong points and I don't want to deter from that so it's making sure we're solid behind the ball while attacking."

A potential conflict in styles doesn't faze the Norwich boss, who believes his team is capable of inflicting damage on any side across the division.

"We can beat anybody in this league, providing we play the way we can," he added.

"We want to go there and put on a good performance to ultimately win the game. We're not in bad form; Fulham was frustrating but in the past ten games we've won seven of them.

"However, the past week hasn't been good for us and we need to put that right by getting back to winning ways. At Leeds, we were unfortunate not to do that.

"It was disappointing in the fact that we probably deserved to go through, and certainly deserved more than we did from our performance versus Preston. However, there were a lot of plus points.

"Not only Nelson Oliveira, but Alex Pritchard played very well and Louis Thompson was outstanding. The guys showed me if we needed to make changes, or if they were required to play, they're more than capable of coming in and performing."

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