Norwich City aim to deliver a statement of intent at Blackburn
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Alex Neil accepts a winning start to Championship life for Norwich City at Blackburn is about more than three points.
Neil knows any lingering negativity surrounding an arduous Premier League experience, that ended painfully in relegation, must be quickly dispelled for those inside and outside the camp.
'We are excited. We want to go and win the first game but it is also about getting everybody settled because it is a long 46-game season,' he said. 'I think it's important for the team that we perform well and it will particularly settle the fans if we can do that. I am pretty sure there is a broad spectrum of views on where we will end up right now but the quicker we play some good stuff and get some wins under our belt then the quicker we can turn our attentions to playing as well as we can every week and everyone buying into that.
'Blackburn is a stern test. I'm told the game at their place a couple of seasons ago, when we got promoted, was the first time we had beaten them at Ewood Park in about 20-odd years. It is a difficult place, but they have lost some big players, the boy Grant Hanley for example. We are confident in the fact if we perform as well as we can we have enough to get something from the game.'
Neil was at his most brutally honest on Friday when spelling out what he expects from his side and the second tier in general.
'We have to remember that the calibre of the opposition is not the same as the Premier League. It isn't going to be as good, and that is no disrespect to the Championship but this is a different challenge,' he said. 'If you are not up for the fight and you won't battle and scrap then you are going to find the Championship tough. I didn't really look at Blackburn last year so it is hard to gauge how different they might be with a new manager. I know the way they play right now and that is the most important thing and we can't afford to be timid.'
Robbie Brady (calf) and Russell Martin (back) will definitely miss out through injury while Graham Dorrans (groin) is a doubt. Martin's absence raises the issue of who leads Neil's new-look Norwich into battle, with Alex Tettey and Jonny Howson taking on that role during various stages of pre-season.
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'I have a decision to make but I am quite comfortable with that situation. I think what fans see and what managers and coaches see is two very different things when it comes to the captaincy,' said Neil. 'I think perhaps fans might focus on the 90 minutes, when they look for captaincy material, but I have to factor in what I see behind closed doors.
'Russell is back to normal now after the injections in his back so it is just a case of getting him ready to play. I think with Robbie if he had a full week's training he would have been in contention. Graham will probably be a last minute call. We will give him the best chance we can. We have monitored him this week and he has done bits and bobs, but we have wrapped him in cotton wool to get him ready for the game.'