Alex Neil pleads the case for the defence at Norwich City

Alex Neil knows Norwich City need to tighten up at the back. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Alex Neil knows Norwich City need to tighten up at the back. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil has launched the case for the defence amid a growing clamour to shake up Norwich City's backline.

John Ruddy and his fellow defenders came in for their fair share of criticism after a 6-2 Premier League loss at Newcastle left the Canaries' with the worst defensive record in the division, ahead of West Brom's visit to Carrow Road.

Neil's squad have yet to keep a clean sheet in the top flight since their return, but the Scot insists the solution does not hinge on bombing out key men like Ruddy.

'I think it is a bit harsh to say it is time to change him. If you look at the goals we conceded at Newcastle it was not as if they were goalkeeping errors,' said Neil. 'Most of them were close range, the last one takes a deflection off Steven Whittaker's shin. After any defeat everything gets called into question; how you play, whether the personnel I pick are doing their jobs properly, so everything has been open to debate and things have been questioned. This week has been useful for that but it has to bear fruit come the weekend.

'I'm sure the lads not playing will be hoping for an opportunity and may feel the others haven't performed well enough. They are merited in thinking that way but I have to pick the best side to do the job.

'The clean sheet is not something I have thought about because the focus is on winning a game, however, you want to keep clean sheets. I think it is going to be crucial for us over the course of the season if we want to win more games. It is certainly something we aim to improve on. It is a difficult balance, particularly being one of the smaller teams at this level, to have that attacking edge but also keeping the back door shut.

'It is important to get the three points because we have lost the last two games, simple as that.'

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