Alex Neil won’t be distracted by Garry Monk’s comments ahead of Norwich City’s clashes with Leeds United
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The frantic nature of Norwich City's push for promotion in the Championship has not allowed manager Alex Neil much time to focus on the EFL Cup but he appreciates his team have an opportunity to earn a cup quarter-final tonight.
The selection of fringe players such as Seb Bassong and Steven Naismith for the shock 2-0 win at Everton in the last round emphasised where the competition ranks in Neil's priorities this season. Yet that success, thanks to goals from Naismith and Josh Murphy, leaves City just one win from a potential quarter-final against one of the Premier League big boys.
'We know if we win this game we're into the quarter-finals, however because of the number of games in the Championship, there's not enough time to get excited about things because there's not a long time to think about it,' Neil said.
'It's literally game, recover, recover, game, recover, recover – and that's the way the games work for you.
'So it's really difficult to spend a long period of time analysing things, you've got to get over things quickly, you can't let it fester, you can't just try and concentrate on one match because another one's coming on the back of it thick and fast.'
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Standing between City and that quarter-final is Garry Monk's improving Leeds team, who are unbeaten in five home matches.
Neil and Monk played alongside each other at Barnsley and the Leeds boss has looked to up the ante ahead of tonight and the upcoming league clash at Carrow Road on November 5, suggesting City should be 'favourites' to win the Championship title.
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'I played with Gaz so he's probably just trying to apply more pressure for me, so that's good,' Neil said with a smile. 'But yeah, we've got a strong squad, we probably should be there or thereabouts at the top end of the table, I'm hoping and I'm expecting, and I'm pretty sure the players would be the same. But it's not easy, it's a hard league. You've seen Preston beat Huddersfield and then, obviously in a different manner, they beat us, so every game in the Championship is difficult.'
Monk has overcome a tough start to the season to lift his side to 10th in the table and Neil is pleased to see his former team-mate doing well.
'I think they've improved,' he added. 'They've got a lot of young players which is good when you're a coach to mould and manage because what you tend to find is they haven't found their way in the game yet so their opinion on things is limited in comparison to older players.
'Whereas I think if you're an experienced player you've seen a lot of methods and you've done a lot of things so naturally you're going to have an opinion on things.'
Follow live coverage of tonight's match from 6.45pm at www.pinkun.com/live