Norwich City chief Alex Neil insists Sunderland showdown is not winner-takes-all in Premier League scrap

Dieumerci Mbokani was a key figure in Norwich City's 3-2 Premier League win against Newcastle United

Dieumerci Mbokani was a key figure in Norwich City's 3-2 Premier League win against Newcastle United. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil insists Norwich City's Premier League duel against Sunderland is not a winner-takes-all clash in the battle to beat the drop.

City return to Carrow Road this weekend for the first time since a thrilling stoppage time win over fellow relegation rivals Newcastle, but Neil is not ruling out the Magpies' survival chances.

Norwich go into this Saturday's vital showdown against Sunderland four points clear of Sam Allardyce's side, with Newcastle two points further adrift, although both north-east clubs have a game in hand.

'No, it's not just a shoot-out between us. I wouldn't discount Newcastle,' said Neil. 'They have a game in hand and if they win they are three points behind, which is really the difference between winning and losing just one more game. It will be hard for Newcastle; particularly after what happened against us. If you come from behind, not once but twice in adversity, and you think to yourself you have just done enough and managed to salvage a point and keep a relegation rival close to you and then lose it is tough to take. Similar to how it ended for us against Liverpool. Although we discussed it and felt we had overcame it some of those mental things take longer than others and I think that defeat might linger a bit longer for them.'

Neil, however, is ruling out any hangover from his side's 1-0 Premier League defeat at Crystal Palace.

'I don't think anybody bounces into work when you have lost a game and on occasions there has been a sombre mood when we have lost big games, certainly when we have played well and not come away with anything,' he said. 'The lads seem much more confident and much more at ease after this recent run because they can now see results are coming. We have only taken perhaps two or three heavy defeats this season, when you see teams down the bottom in previous seasons getting heavy defeats every week and getting quite a few hidings.

'That is generally not been the case.'

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