Alex Neil wants Norwich City’s shadow squad to impress at Everton on cup duty
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is pushing for a Capital One Cup recall at Everton on Tuesday.
Canaries' chief Alex Neil confirmed at Colney on Monday afternoon none of his senior players will be involved in tonight's development game at Reading ahead of the trip to Goodison Park.
Mulumbu played 60-minutes last week for the development squad in his first outing since foot surgery and Neil is pledging to shuffle his pack after the Premier League 1-0 home defeat against West Brom.
'I don't think it will be wholesale changes. There'll be a few,' he said. 'I'll give guys an opportunity who have trained well and deserve a chance. You have to make sure the guys are not thrown together, you have to give them an opportunity. At the weekend Ryan Bennett came in after not featuring so there are definitely places up for grabs. That is not a secret and the squad are fully aware of that.
'Obviously in recent weeks, in terms of performances, certainly results, haven't been as good as we would hope or expect so some of the other lads will get an opportunity to stake a claim and we'll see what happens from there.
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'I think Dieumerci Mbokani has picked up a little bug, flu-type thing, so he has to shake that off but other than that the rest of the squad is fine. Potentially that could rule him out but we'll see how he recovers from it. None of the senior lads will be involved in the Under-21s so he (Mulumbu) comes into my thoughts for Everton, along with the rest of the first team squad. There are guys we need to get minutes because they might be required.'
Neil admits City's daunting weekend league trip to Manchester City is another factor in his team planning on Merseyside, but the Scot is desperate to end a three-game winless run.
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'Anyone who knows me as a person or a player before will know I am the type to face a challenge head on. We'll be ready,' he said. 'If you don't win games the players are not going to be bubbling with confidence. You have to focus on the ones ahead. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling on the ones that have gone. I want to see a bit of pride and passion.
'It's another game. Whether it be Tuesday or Saturday we have to get prepared. The league is our bread and butter. That is the most important thing for us this year. We want to do well in the cup but if you are prioritising then the league is most important. I have got to have one eye on that (Manchester City). We'll give it our all but I need to balance it off to make sure we are fresh.
'Not for a second is it a case I could do without this fixture because I can give players a game. The lads not playing are just as important to me as the ones who are because you never know in a week or two they might be the ones called upon so it is crucial.'