Gary O’Neil wants Norwich City squad to show they are ‘man enough’ for the relegation fight

Gary ONeil of Norwich and Carles Gil of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League mat

Gary ONeil of Norwich and Carles Gil of Aston Villa in action during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Experienced midfielder Gary O'Neil has challenged his Norwich City team-mates to prove they have the stomach for a relegation battle.

The Canaries have slipped into the Premier League relegation zone after an extremely painful 2-0 loss at bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa.

Alex Neil's team fell to their fifth successive league loss, conceding 16 goals in that horror run of games, and O'Neil says the players are well aware they must take full responsibility for the shock downturn in form.

'You keep doing as much as you can, as well as you can, when things are going badly and when things aren't as easy as they were when it was going a bit better,' the 32-year-old said.

'You dig in and show how much character you've got, so if you make a mistake or you don't do something as well as you'd hoped, you need to be man enough to stand up and go and do it again.

'We'll see over the next few weeks if we've got enough of that in us.'

O'Neil knows all about the battle for top-flight survival, having helped keep Portsmouth in the league between 2005 and 2007, as well as Middlesbrough in 2008 and West Ham in 2013.

Most Read

He was also part of relegation campaigns at Boro in 2009 and the Hammers in 2011, so is no stranger to the worrying situation the Canaries are in.

With 13 games to go however, he is not hitting the panic button just yet, after Newcastle leapfrogged City into 17th place by beating West Brom – ahead of Saturday's clash with sixth-placed West Ham at Carrow Road.

'It doesn't make any difference to me, the aim is still the same: go out there against West Ham and try and win the game next week,' O'Neil continued.

'You guys (the media) can talk about the five defeats all you want, they've gone, we can't affect them now.

'So we go on to West Ham and give everything we can to get the three points, and then on into the next games as well.'