A lack of fitness is not a factor in Norwich City’s Championship struggles, insists Alex Neil
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Alex Neil rejects out of hand Norwich City's fitness has been found wanting in the Championship.
Neil insists a lack of hunger is a more accurate charge to level at his squad.
'I wouldn't put our fitness levels as a factor at all. This group is as fit as any group we have had here,' he said. 'We do a lot of testing on the distances we run and a whole range of other scores assess that. That is nonsense. That is people clinging on to things to use to beat the club, the players and me as the manager. You mention the word hunger. Have we got enough hunger and desire to be at the top end of the table because sometimes you don't need to be the best team. I watched games over the weekend with Newcastle and Leeds and Birmingham and Huddersfield dominated both those games from the first minute and lost 3-1. That was about guts, determination, being diligent in your work. All the bits you need, especially away from home, to win games.'
Neil accepts such an accusation does not reflect well on his troops.
'It disappoints me hugely,' he said. 'I would add when you have Graham Dorrans, Youssouf Mulumbu, Louis Thompson missing for the vast majority of the season it proves to be really difficult, away from home, because you are putting other guys in who are not as suited as they are. You can only deal with the hand you have got. That is not me making excuses. That is the facts.'
City head to Ashton Gate on Tuesday to face a Bristol City battling for survival. Norwich were overwhelmed at Rotherham and Burton in 2017, and that weekend mauling at Hillsborough demands yet another response.
'Can I tell you we are going to get a reaction and win the game comfortably? No,' said Neil. 'We have been too inconsistent this season to feel that is going to be the case. I was in that type of changing room for a long time (as a player). I know exactly what they will be saying and how they will be saying it because those type of changing rooms are where I was as a player. When you are facing the bigger teams you want to make sure you are aggressive, determined, and willing to get in people's faces.
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'It will be a tough match, they will fight for every ball and they will see if we have the heart for the game and I expect them to test us in every way possible. They are going to be aggressive, they are going to get the ball forward and fight for second balls. We are facing a team scrapping for their lives who have found it difficult to come by results.'