Norwich City boss Alex Neil assesses his walking wounded ahead of Burton test
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Alex Neil will have no choice but to send a patched-up Norwich City into battle against Burton.
Nelson Oliveira, Youssouf Mulumbu and Ivo Pinto joined a growing casualty list ahead of the midweek 2-2 Championship draw against Newcastle United.
Neil expects Oliveira to be out for at least a month with a foot injury, while Pinto (foot) and Steven Naismith (hamstring) are major doubts for the weekend trip to the Brewers. Graham Dorrans is still some weeks away from a return, after a knee injury, while Louis Thompson’s season is over following surgery on a ruptured Achilles and Mulumbu is struggling with a thigh issue.
“The problem for this weekend is you can only change if you have players available,” said Neil. “We were literally down to 18 to pick from (for Newcastle). Ben Godfrey is one of the younger lads, so too the Murphys and even Alex Pritchard, so you go beyond them you are digging into the under-23s squad.
“Going again with games in such close proximity is hard because we want to get after the ball and press. When you play good sides, with the energy of a Newcastle, you can’t do it three times a week. What I have tried to do of late is mix my teams up to make sure lads are fresh. That helped us with Jacob and Alex Tettey, who I thought were excellent. Steven Whittaker, for someone who hadn’t played much recently, came in and really applied himself well. It isn’t any surprise none of those played in the previous game.”
City head to Burton four points away from sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday after the Magpies hit back late at Carrow Road.
“What it does do is keep us unbeaten (in the league) this year,” said Neil. “We won seven out of eight earlier in the season and we are capable of putting together a whole host of games. Newcastle is a really good side. The tempo, certainly in the first half, was of a Premier League standard based on the games I watch week in, week out. It was two powerful teams going toe-to-toe.
“I said before during our bad period we lacked a bit of fortune as well. It really is fine margins at times. We made an early error at the back, (Aleksandar) Mitrovic goes through and John Ruddy makes a great save. On a bad run the ball goes in the net.”