Jacob Murphy forced to work overtime in Jonny Howson’s absence at Norwich City

Jacob Murphy was sacrificed in the second-half of Norwich City's Championship defeat to Preston. Pic

Jacob Murphy was sacrificed in the second-half of Norwich City's Championship defeat to Preston. Picture by Andy Kearns/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Andy Kearns/Focus Images Limited

Alex Neil warns it is all hands to the pump after Norwich City's first Championship home defeat of the season against Preston was compounded by Jonny Howson's injury hammer blow.

Howson has undergone ankle surgery and is expected to be out until at least Christmas, to cap a miserable few days for the Canaries who blew a two-goal lead at Fulham and then conceded a soft winner to the Lilywhites.

Neil admitted too many of his men were well off the pace at Carrow Road on Saturday but a growing casualty list requires those fit for duty to step up.

'When you are overly-reliant on some players you are depending on them to play well and that is impossible to do every match,' he said. 'We need other people to step up and take that mantle from time to time. We had a couple of key players who have been doing the business regularly for us this season and they were not at their peak. If you have 11 players on the pitch and five or six are not playing as well as they can it is always going to be a tough. It is a huge blow. He is an experienced player who can play in a variety of possessions and when he is not there, and with Youssouf Mulumbu out with his foot injury, then we are relying on a lot of the younger lads. I think if Jonny had been available the last couple of games he would have featured. There is no doubt about that.'

Jacob Murphy was again pressed into service against Preston but the youngster was replaced early in the second-half.

'Jacob has done wonderfully well, but he is a young man and we are demanding a lot of him and naturally a young player will experience a lull before they come again,' said Neil. 'He'll be fine. It is credit to how he started that we are not talking about the loss of Nathan (Redmond) but the impact of Jacob. I have been delighted with him but I would like to have given him and us an opportunity to drop out a little bit and depend on someone else.

'Jacob had to play again because that right-hand side is a bit light when Jonny is not there. Matt Jarvis is not fit yet as well and then we have Josh Murphy and Alex (Pritchard), who is still relatively young, so it doesn't help.'

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