Norwich City players well aware they must win physical battles to thrive in the Championship – Ivo Pinto

Ivo Pinto has made 32 appearances for Norwich City since joining last January.
Picture by Paul Ches

Ivo Pinto has made 32 appearances for Norwich City since joining last January. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Canaries boss Alex Neil has made it clear his players need to be prepared to battle in the Championship in recent weeks and Ivo Pinto feels he is stepping up to the mark.

The Portuguese 27-year-old switched from Dinamo Zagreb last January but saw his adjustment to the English game step up a gear when City slipped to the Championship.

Pinto's searing pace and positive attitude have seen him quickly become a crowd favourite, yet he has had to learn new sides of his game on the battleground of the English second tier.

'In Croatia we were totally dominant, we were champions 10 times in a row, so to be honest it was quite easy to play in Croatia,' the right-back said, looking back on his first year in Norfolk.

'So here I am facing quite different challenges from the Premier League, which is more the ball on the ground, and the Championship is more direct football, more physicality, about battles, fighting.

'But still, if we are in a good shape as we were in the start of the season, it's not just about that, it is about our quality. If we win our battles, with the quality we have got, I think it is much easier for us.'

Pinto admits it was a shock to the system last January when he completed his switch from Zagreb for around £2million, adding with a smile: 'The first time I trained with the boys, they were my gym! Because I went up against them and I go to the ground.

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'So to just keep believing in myself was the key for me and now I am used to it and I know how to play here.'

The full-back missed the 3-0 defeat away to today's opponents Birmingham in August due to injury and insists the City squad won't be focusing on revenge this afternoon.

'We can speak about that (loss) but I think at the moment we are not concerned about that, to keep winning games is the most important thing,' he added.

'If it can help us in thinking about that game in Birmingham that we lost, okay let's use it, but the most important thing was to do our jobs, to worry about ourselves and to make sure we do our job. If we do that, it is not about Birmingham, it is about Norwich City. I think we have a better team and we should be in a better place now.'