Fireworks in store for Norwich City at Blackburn
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil predicts fireworks against Blackburn with the Championship season entering a defining phase.
Norwich City's recent winning surge has propelled the Canaries right back into the promotion race but they face a Rovers' side striving to harness the same elusive momentum to threaten the top six.
'At this stage every team really needs wins, whether it's because you are fighting relegation, or needing points to get in the play-offs or the top two,' said Neil. 'A draw nowadays at this stage is generally no good to most teams. They will certainly go for it and we are at the stage where we need to win every game we play. On their day they are more than capable of causing you a problem. Everybody probably expected Blackpool to lose going there on Saturday but they didn't, they dug in for a point and good for them. Look at Middlesbrough playing Leeds as well at the weekend. The results in this league can be very surprising.'
City thwarted Watford's deadly duo Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo at Vicarage Road to secure a fourth clean sheet in five and Rovers carry a similar threat in Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede.
'I don't overly focus on what they do to hurt us. We will be prepared but I am a big believer if my players produce what they are capable of we can win,' said Neil. 'Rhodes, if he gets a chance, can score at this level but equally I have guys in my team who are more than capable of doing the same. The boy Gestede has had a good season. He is big and direct and Rhodes is a real handful and with the pace of (Josh) King they have good options up top.'
Norwich's weekend win at Watford was notable for Neil's willingness to use his squad depth again. Vadis Ofoe is part of the travelling party heading to Lancashire and Graham Dorrans also comes into contention with the likes of key midfielders Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey on the cusp of serving a one-match suspension.
'Yes, I would be lying if I said that wasn't in my thoughts,' said Neil. 'But it won't alter my team. I can't pick a team based on worrying about someone getting a booking. If we lose somebody further down the line then we'll cross that bridge. Vadis will travel and we have to decide if he comes into the squad. With Graham it is difficult to say if he is fully match-fit because he had been a bit-part player at West Brom. I wouldn't go as far as saying he is 100pc match fit because he has not been playing week in, week out but he is a fit lad.
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'I am conscious of the workload on a lot of the players, however, it is needs must right now. Sometimes there are games coming up where I might feel they need to be involved and in that case it is managing the situation and making them recover.
'If they are running on empty then that is another case but one of the reasons Graham has been added to give us that strength in depth.'