Alex Neil praises his Norwich City boys after a fiesty 2-1 friendly win over Rubin Kazan
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Alex Neil admitted a ferocious 2-1 friendly win against Rubin Kazan was the perfect pre-season tune-up in their Austrian tour finale on Saturday.
Cameron Jerome and Steven Naismith sealed the win over the former double Russian Premier League champions in a contest that saw Michael Turner dismissed early in the second half for a second bookable offence.
Neil was allowed to introduce youngster Louis Ramsay, after a brief discussion with Rubin's new boss Javier Gracia and the match official, to avoid playing the last 40 minutes in sweltering temperatures with just 10 men.
'I thought our boys were great, they showed up really well and the competitiveness of the game was excellent,' said Neil. 'There was a bit of needle in it and our boys rose to the challenge. You want to try and make them as realistic as possible. But within that there was some real quality. The second goal we scored with Steven Naismith was fantastic. In terms of the aggression and how both applied themselves you could see it wasn't really a friendly.
'What pleased me the most was in terms of how I wanted to set them up and play they did great. We got in good areas with our offensive football and structurally we were sound and got a lot of minutes into legs. Then towards the end they tried to pin us back and that was good for the shape to deal with not having the ball. It is not just about keeping the ball and using it, against the better sides you are going to come under pressure. You have to see it out.
'As for the red card, to be fair their manager was good as well. I spoke to him and the referee and said, 'no one wants a sending off.' He gave himself a problem because the first one wasn't a booking, the second one was a definite one, but it was disappointing but they allowed us to bring another player on because the last thing we could do was run about for 40 minutes in this heat with 10 men.'
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Neil gave recent signing Sergi Canos and fit-again Jonny Howson their first outings of the pre-season in a far more experienced line up than the midweek 3-1 friendly defeat to FK Dukla Prague.
'I said before the game this one it would be a lot different to the other night because we put a lot of the young lads in,' he said. 'We saved the experienced lads, or most of them, for this game because we knew what was coming. This is a Champions League quality team, who have spent a lot of money in the summer in terms of improving the squad.'
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City headed straight to the airport after the game for a flight back to the UK with Neil reporting no fresh injuries. The Scot also confirmed he does not expect any incoming transfer business in the next 24 hours.