Guessing games come with the territory for Norwich City’s Gary O’Neil
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich's stand-in captain Gary O'Neil admits it is pointless trying to second guess Alex Neil's selection policy.
Lewis Grabban's surprise return for the battling 1-1 Premier League draw against Arsenal underlined Neil will do whatever it takes to get a result.
O'Neil captained the side against the Gunners, after deputising for Russell Martin at Chelsea, but the experienced midfielder insists all bets are off ahead of this weekend's league trip to Watford.
'He will pick teams on what he thinks is right for that game, irrespective of whether you have played or whether the team has won. It is based on the performance he feels he needs,' he said. 'Obviously the older you get you realise it is a squad game these days and I am happy to play any part he sees fit. I am happy with the role I have been playing and if the gaffer feels someone else is better suited to a particular game then you have to respect that. We have a fantastic squad here, in the way they train and how professional they are.'
O'Neil believes both Norwich and the Hornets have already shown the gap is narrowing between the Championship and the top flight.
'It is the jump when you go and play the big teams in the Premier League that is the massive one,' he said. 'But that is the case for teams like us, Watford, Sunderland, Bournemouth - just because of the funds they have spent and the top players they can attract. I don't think the top sides in the Championship are too far away from that bottom group. Some of the sides now at the top of the Championship are pretty much as good as or if not, only slightly worse, than the lower teams.'
Neil has forged a reputation as a serial promotion winner, after play-off victories with QPR, West Ham and the Canaries, but the 32-year-old knows exactly what it takes to flourish in the big league following spells with Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and the Hammers.
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'I don't think it has changed since I was last in it. The last time I was with West Ham we finished 10th and I played about 25 games that year, and it is fairly similar. I don't think it has moved on that much,' he said.
'It has definitely moved on since I first started 15 years ago, maybe slightly more than that, but these last few years not so much.'