Norwich City’s fringe men must grab their chance to impress Alex Neil

Steven Whittaker, left, and Graham Dorrans have both been on development duty for Norwich City in re

Steven Whittaker, left, and Graham Dorrans have both been on development duty for Norwich City in recent weeks. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil has praised the attitude of his senior Norwich City players who have stepped in at development level over recent times.

Captain Russell Martin, Graham Dorrans, Steven Whittaker, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe and Kyle Lafferty all featured as part of Dmitri Halajko's set-up in the last few weeks.

Norwich have scheduled development games against Sunderland and Liverpool before Christmas, and Neil sees the value of game-time for his fringe men ahead of a hectic festive spell.

'Some of the boys maybe feel they need a bit of game time in their legs and will come to me and say 'any chance of a game with the 21s?' and there are others I will go to and say they need to play for the 21s, and then they go in and show their experience,' he said. 'The one thing I would say is their attitudes in relation to those games has been great. The bottom line is if they don't approach it in the right manner then they are not doing themselves any favours, in terms of getting themselves back into the first team. They know when they drop down there is an expectation on them and they have to go and deliver it.'

Neil was at Carrow Road to watch Jamar Loza's five-goal haul in a 7-2 romp against Southampton's Under-21s, but the striker looks set for a loan spell next month to press his first team claims.

'To score five in any game is a fine achievement,' said Neil. 'If you look at Jamar he has had a number of loans but even when he has gone out he has not played regularly. He went to Stevenage in League Two and played two games, I think, and dropped out of the team, which is a concern, because he needs to make sure he is holding down a place in the team. He has done great but we have real competition in that position for the first team.'

City's next development outing has been switched from Carrow Road to Colney next Monday (December 14) with a 1pm kick-off. Liverpool's Under-21s are scheduled to visit Norfolk on December 21.

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City's two recent home wins over both Manchester United and Southampton's development squads has moved Halajko's side up the table, with 10 points from their opening 10 games. The Canaries have competed in the elite top tier of development football since the move to a two-division format.