Norwich City striving for the right code to unlock Brighton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton's Carrow Road critics castigated him for his negative outlook at Norwich City but Alex Neil knows the Canaries' Championship prospects at Brighton hinge on finding the key to the lock.
Reading is the only team to have scored more than one goal against the Seagulls in their past seven league games and Neil insists City must be at their most imaginative on the south coast ahead of a potentially defining Easter spell.
'I think it is going to be a difficult game. Since he went in there Chris has improved them considerably defensively,' said Neil. 'They are a good unit, he has made them hard to break down and we are going to have to come up with the answers to that stubborn structure.
'We have to move the ball at pace, be crisp and precise in our passing. The first goal is crucial. If we get that it will hopefully change how Brighton go about it, but if they do then it makes it more difficult.
'Easter will be crucial for all the top teams in terms of playing games in quick succession with limited rest and having to travel, but the game against Sheffield Wednesday will not come into my thoughts. It is now about the final push. We have four in the next 11 or 12 days and if we need to rotate the squad we will do but if guys are fit, fresh and playing well then it'll be the best guys for the job.'
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Fatigue is not a factor for Neil with his international brigade returning unscathed.
'It was a bit tense watching them when they were away but to be honest you could pick up an injury in a training session here,' he said. 'I think we have won every game I have been here after a little break so that is a positive.
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'The message now is this is the final push and then you can put your feet up when the job is done. It's a mini league and we have two points to make up in a seven-game season. We have thrown caution to the wind to get us into this situation and if we don't get there now it won't be for the lack of trying or trying to force the opposition backwards.'