Time to turn up the heat on Norwich City’s rivals urges Alan Irvine

Alex Pritchard could be a key figure on the run-in for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus

Alex Pritchard could be a key figure on the run-in for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City interim boss Alan Irvine is urging the Canaries to be promotion party poopers when they get back to Championship business at Aston Villa.

Irvine will stay in charge for the trip to Villa Park as the club's top brass continue their search to recruit a sporting director and head coach. Huddersfield's head of football operations, Stuart Webber, remains the prime candidate to lead the club's new football model.

Irvine picked up four points from his first two games, after replacing Alex Neil, and with five of the top seven to play over the run-in the experienced Scot insists Norwich will have a major say in the play-off race.

City head to resurgent Villa this weekend at the start of a make-of-break spell that includes trips to Huddersfield, Preston and Leeds.

'We have a really big task to get in the play-offs. We need other teams to slip up, we know that,' he said, with the Canaries five points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday. 'We have 24 points to play for. Look at every single one of those games in isolation and we feel if we perform well in every one of those we have a chance to win each of them. I am not suggesting for a moment we will win every one but we are capable of picking up a good number of points. While there is a chance of getting in the play-offs we have to have a go, albeit it is extremely difficult.'

Irvine resisted the temptation to make major changes to Norwich's starting line up prior to the international break but the Scot is not afraid to blood more young talent after Alex Pritchard featured against both Blackburn and Barnsley.

'I think he has a great future at this club and can be an important player moving forward,' said Irvine. 'People were probably waiting to see if I picked him after what happened at Blackburn with the early substitution but that was nothing personal.

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'The club have been building up that side of the squad and Alex Neil brought a couple in, with Alex (Pritchard) and James Maddison. The two Murphys have come through the system but Alex gave them a chance to come and play and they have great futures. They have that athleticism and pace that is something everybody is looking forward. I saw those two games as standalone. If I was doing it for a longer period then that is something I might consider.'