Grab your chance to impress, says Alex Neil to Norwich City's shadow squad ahead of Coventry City EFL Cup tie
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Young and old will get the chance to impress Alex Neil on Tuesday night, with the prize at stake not simply EFL Cup progress at Coventry City's expense.
Neil accepts the likes of Russell Martin and Seb Bassong have had limited chance to shine in the opening weeks of the Championship fightback, while talented youngsters such as James Maddison and Ben Godfrey have also been waiting in the wings.
The Scot’s task is to get the balance right against the League One Sky Blues as he strives for a place in the third round.
“I have no fears with the young lads,” said Neil. “They have trained with us since the start of the summer, they are with us daily and I am hoping some of these can come in and show them how good they are. Someone like Seb Bassong has played the majority of the games since I have been here and he is not getting much game-time. Russell Martin, who is the captain, has not had much game-time. We have a lot of options.
“It is not like I am filling the team with inexperienced guys. A lot of these lads have played in the Championship so it is not a case of proving anything. They just have to show they are ready and desperate for their chance. The one thing I have tried to do is play the guys who I am deem are most ready to play.
“The likes of Russell had a back problem in the summer which put him behind some others. He has to get himself up to speed and stake his claim for the shirt.”
Neil’s enviable squad depth allows him to cope with a spate of early season injuries and a congested schedule.
“I think we want to win every game but this is an opportunity for the lads not featuring to show why they should be involved. We want to win, we are at home and we certainly don’t want to go out of the competition,” he said. “Last year we made quite a few changes and gave opportunities to other boys to play in the cup games. We are in a different position perhaps to this time last season because in certain parts of the squad we are arguably stronger. I think we have got to make sure we keep the minutes up for the lads not featuring quite as heavily.”
Neil got a close look of Tony Mowbray’s young squad during a Carrow Road summer friendly.
“Tony has got them working in a way he likes, they are comfortable in possession and technically they are good,” he said. “We have to match that and make sure our use of the ball is better and when we don’t have it that we have a good method about how we get it back. It will be tough. Some of our boys will come into a team which has not been together for a few weeks, whereas they will probably be a settled line up. They play three at the back, which is not that unusual, but in the middle of the park they play with two sitters and two number tens. That formation really clogs the middle areas.”