Iwan Roberts: Who does Norwich City Alex Neil choose now to defend Carrow Road fortress?

John Ruddy claims a cross during the game at Everton. The stopper was part of a strong team which sh

John Ruddy claims a cross during the game at Everton. The stopper was part of a strong team which showed the strength in depth at Norwich City. Photo: Paul Chesterton - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It's been a fantastic few days for Norwich City.

Not only have they extended their winning run to four games with victories over Nottingham Forest and Everton, but they've done it in a more convincing manner than their previous wins against Cardiff and Wigan – and that will please us all.

Two of my former clubs sit proudly first and second in the Championship and I couldn't be happier for both – they are clubs very much close to my heart and I'd be delighted come the beginning of May if both Norwich and Huddersfield occupy those two automatic places.

However, with 38 games still to go the season is still in its infancy, but the signs are good.

Having played in the Championship for 15 years I've always maintained it's the hardest league to predict results. I gave up many years ago and if there was ever an example of the unpredictability of the division it was the weekend's results.


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Newcastle, who had been flying since losing their opening two games, travelled to Loftus Road last Tuesday night and won 6-0 – but then lost at home to Wolves in their very next game. Wolves had been well and truly beaten by newly-promoted Barnsley 4-0 in their previous game at Molineux. That's three defeats now for Newcastle and if they are going to keep the tag of favourites to win the league they need to show more consistency in their performances.

The one thing that Tuesday night's win at Goodison Park proved is that Alex Neil has one of, if not the, best squads in the Championship – but let's be honest, we knew that before the lads travelled up to Merseyside. The squad has very good strength in depth, which creates good competition for places which then gets the best out of players.

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Neil made 10 changes to the team that beat Forest on Saturday, but you can't say it was a weakened team when it included six full internationals.

Add the likes of John Ruddy, Ryan Bennett, Alex Pritchard and Josh Murphy and that's a starting lineup that could alone challenge for promotion this season. All credit to those lads – they went out and performed superbly against a strong Everton side who are unbeaten in the Premier League this season and who have been performing brilliantly under new manager Ronald Koeman.

Those who played on Tuesday night have given Neil a bit of a selection headache before tomorrow's game against Burton – but what a nice headache for him to have.

He would much rather have this type of problem with every player champing at the bit and fighting to be in the starting line-up than the other way round.

You can ask any manager and they would all say the same: 'It's a nice problem to have.'

Norwich play Burton tomorrow for the very first time in a competitive game and if the Canaries perform anywhere near the level they have done in their last two games then I'm convinced it will be another home win.

The lads have been formidable at home up to now, having collected 10 points out of their opening four home games and it already looks as if it's going to be very difficult indeed to take any points from Norwich at Carrow Road. Already it looks like becoming a fortress – which it has to be if you're going to win automatic promotion.

Barton's put his foot in it yet again

I see Joey Barton's mouth has got him into trouble yet again.

Barton was suspended by Rangers for three weeks after a heated exchange of words with some of his team-mates and manager Mark Warburton after the club's humiliating defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals Celtic.

Joey is quite a controversial character who's never been shy of saying what he thinks, but sometimes you have to be careful, especially when you are at a new club and when you're not pulling up any trees with your own performances.

I've always said that as a player you always have to make sure that your own house is in order before you start having a pop at other players, otherwise you leave yourself wide open.

Craig Bellamy was one of the most vocal players I've ever shared a dressing room with, but you didn't mind him saying his bit as nine times out of 10 he backed it up with his performances on the pitch.

Barton has been very poor since signing for Rangers this summer and to cap it all he was given a lesson by Scott Brown in the Old Firm derby the other week – who he publicly criticised as a player when he first signed for Rangers.

Joey's now 34 and isn't going to change, but having been suspended for three weeks he might just learn his lesson.

I wouldn't hold my breath – mind you, as he's just brought out his autobiography out it might just be a cunning plan.

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