Ivo Pinto stick is out of order, insists Norwich City boss Alex Neil

Norwich City defender Ivo Pinto is adapting to the Premier League for Alex Neil. Picture by Paul Che

Norwich City defender Ivo Pinto is adapting to the Premier League for Alex Neil. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil wants the critics to lay off Norwich City defender Ivo Pinto after launching the case for his defence.

The January transfer recruit from Dinamo Zagreb has come in for stick during Norwich's nine-game winless Premier League run, but Neil insists Pinto will prove a good signing for the Canaries.

'He has been singled out for some unfair criticism but at this stage and the situation we are in everybody can expect to be criticised,' said Neil. 'We are big boys, we just need to take it on the chin and get on with it.

'I think Ivo has settled into the side well, his legs, in terms of getting up and down the pitch, have pretty much broken every record we have this season, in respect of athleticism. I think his strength is getting forward because one of his biggest attributes is his pace but I don't think he is suited to wing-back over full-back or vice versa. He can do either.

'It was unfair to question him defensively in the Swansea game (last weekend). They scored from his area of the pitch but Ivo was the one breaking into their box at the other end and nearly the closest to getting back on the cover.'

Norwich were picked off on the counter at the Liberty Stadium when Wayne Routledge pinched the ball off the overlapping Pinto in a passage of play that finished with Gylfi Sigurdsson rolling the ball past John Ruddy. Neil insists the defining act in Wales underlined the frenetic pace of Premier League action.

'At this level the play happens so quickly,' he said. 'Ivo is probably the quickest player we have got and within 10 seconds it has gone from him having the ball, at the edge of their box, to Swansea robbing him and the ball is in the back of our net. You need to switch on and fill holes but they also got a bit of fortune.

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'Sigurdsson tries to play a ball inside Ryan Bennett who blocks it and it runs half a yard from Jonny Howson, who goes for it, and is dragged out of position. If the ball drops to Jonny then we are going the other way on the attack.'