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Norwich City fringe players likely to get chance to impress during EFL Cup tie at Everton

Steven Naismith is likely to be in contention for a start against his former club tomorrow, as Norwich City manager Alex Neil gives some fringe players a chance to impress in the EFL Cup third round. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Steven Naismith is likely to be in contention for a start against his former club tomorrow, as Norwich City manager Alex Neil gives some fringe players a chance to impress in the EFL Cup third round. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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The Championship promotion race remains the priority for Norwich City but manager Alex Neil wants to see some of his fringe players take their opportunity at Everton in the EFL Cup tomorrow night.

The Canaries boss was keeping his team selection close to his chest ahead of the third round tie at Goodison Park.

Experienced players such as John Ruddy, Sebastien Bassong and Steven Naismith have all had limited game-time recently and could feature against the Toffees.

“We’ve got to strike the right balance but the teams we’ve put out in other rounds and other competitions have been really strong,” Neil said at his pre-match press conference.

“We’ve come off with some really good results. We’ve not played the quality that the likes of Everton have so far in the cups but as I said to some of the players, whether we’re playing Stockport or whether we’re playing Man United, it still gives them an opportunity to go and show what they can do.”

After three league games in eight days, some first-choice players are likely to be given a rest, ahead of Saturday’s home league game against Burton and trips to Newcastle and Wolves next week.

“Obviously we want to do well in the cup, we want to do well in every game we play in but our priority is the league.” Neil added.

“Particularly the Championship, a lot of times you’ve got three games in a week, it starts again next week for us when we go Burton, Newcastle, Wolves, so that’s three massive games for us. That’s certainly going to be our priority.”

The Scot again confirmed that striker Nelson Oliveira is likely to make his debut in the game, following his recent signing from Benfica.

He also hopes to give some younger players another chance but realises Everton are likely to be far stronger than League One side Coventry, whom youngsters including Josh Murphy, Louis Thompson and Sergi Canos helped to thrash 6-1 at Carrow Road in the last round.

However, Everton are unbeaten under new manager Ronald Koeman so far this season, winning five of their six matches.

England internationals Aaron Lennon and Tom Cleverley, former Barcelona prodigy Gerard Deulofeu and striker Enner Valencia, a summer signing from West Ham, were all on the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough and could be in contention.

“We’re going with a team that I think is going to be competitive in the game, I’m not going there to send some kids out as lambs to the slaughter, that’s not going to be the case,” Neil continued.

“We’re going to send a team out that can compete and hopefully get a result but that doesn’t mean some of the younger lads won’t be involved.”

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