Alex Pritchard is Norwich City’s little general
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Pritchard is doing his talking on the pitch for Alex Neil after a starring show in the 5-1 Championship romp against Nottingham Forest.
Pritchard struck twice in a vibrant shift in the number 10 role, although the former Tottenham midfielder had to defer to Jonny Howson's sublime volley for top billing in the manager's personal pecking order.
'That is like trying to choose between your children,' said Neil. 'You have Alex, Wes (Hoolahan) and Jonny in there. They are all highly thought of. It is a tough one. If I had to be really forced into a corner I think because Jonny hit his first time and it is on the volley I would go for that one.
'Was it Alex's best game for us? Brentford at home he was a bit special. Alex is a very creative player and what we are trying to get him to do is all the other bits on a regular basis that make him not just a flair player but a real quality player who can do both sides. He is unbelievably talented but he has tenacity about him at the moment that is making him a better player. Alex will only get better the more time he spends here. Right foot, left foot goals and two assists in the week. It's not bad.'
Josh Murphy is another who rewarded his manager's faith.
'I thought he had a really good performance. There are still bits we can improve but that is only natural,' said Neil. 'He is still young. Jacob has required a rest for maybe the last three or four games and I was looking for somebody to step up and I thought Josh did that. He got his goal, looked threatening, pacy and direct. He can cause havoc with his pace. His understanding of the game, the closing down and aggression is improving all the time.'
The manner of Norwich's powerful performance allowed Neil to rest some of his key men in the closing stages ahead of Tuesday's Newcastle clash.
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'Mitchell Dijks has been asked a lot of recently so it was a perfect opportunity to let the big man get a bit of breather,' he said. 'Everyone knows how important Wes is to us so that was a chance to save his legs a touch and Ivo (Pinto) is another one. He had a slight niggle at half-time. Ivo could have continued if it was life or death game.
'I have big calls to make but making sure the balance, particularly of the front four, is right is vital. All I can do is pick what I feel is the best balance, tell what I want in that role but ultimately they have to carry it out. That is always the most difficult part.'
Neil also cleared up the mystery surrounding Timm Klose's head bandage.
'He got his head split during the week in training. Four stitches,' said Neil. 'It is a wee nick. We got it covered up. Its fine. Par for the course.'