Alan Irvine out to avoid a toxic encore in Norwich City’s Barnsley clash

Alex Pritchard was the odd man out agaoinst Blackburn.
Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Pritchard was the odd man out agaoinst Blackburn. Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

Alan Irvine is banking on an easier ride as Norwich City seek a first win in seven at Barnsley's expense.

The interim manager's decision to hook Alex Pritchard in the aftermath of Mitchell Dijks' red card prompted a furious response from large sections of the Carrow Road crowd last weekend.

Irvine was thrust centre stage following Alex Neil's dismissal on the eve of Rovers' visit and wants to finish his short-term brief on a winning note ahead of the international break.

'I would like to last a big longer this weekend before I get that response,' he said. 'For 20 minutes I was enjoying it but unfortunately things changed. It was tough but not the wrong decision and I would do the same again. Alex was extremely upset. I speak to him often and we have a good relationship because he is a young player who is desperate to play and can get a little bit frustrated at times, so we have little chats where I just try and keep him going in the right direction. Alex had been pushing hard, got his chance last week, and I was all for that decision, and he did nothing to suggest he should be out of the team.

'It didn't annoy me but I didn't brush it off either. I understood. It was an emotional reaction but it probably didn't help me to think clearly at the time. Thankfully Marvin Emnes needed treatment which gave me some thinking time and I was able to go through all the different scenarios, fairly rationally and calmly. It has been astonishing how many people have come up to me this week and said it was the right decision. There is nobody who has come up to me and said, 'what were you doing?' I didn't want Alex to go off either but I had to take someone off and I explained my thinking after the game.'

Pritchard was also collateral damage at the interval in the trip to Oakwell earlier this season when Barnsley swarmed over the Canaries in a 2-1 Championship win.

'They are incredibly hard-working, really enthusiastic and determined,' said Irvine. 'They play at a high tempo, high intensity but with some quality as well. They have had a great season and I expect them to continue in that fashion for the rest of the reason. They have not only had a good first half to the season but continued to get results after losing three key players in the January transfer window. I am full of admiration for the job Paul (Heckingbottom) has done with those players. They are incredibly honest, hard-working and professional and we experienced that in the first-half at Oakwell.

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'They played at a tempo that gave us some problems. Alex (Neil) managed to sort things out and turn things around and we gave them some problems, but we had given ourselves a mountain to climb. They will press from the front, work extremely hard and support the front players. We won't be in for an easy ride. Anyone who turns up thinking it will be easy is in for a surprise.'