Alex Neil: Newcastle need win more than Norwich


Norwich boss Alex Neil is refusing to put pressure on his side ahead of a crunch run of fixtures which could define their season.

The Canaries sit just above the drop zone in the Premier League and entertain 19th-placed Newcastle tomorrow, with further games against fellow relegation candidates Crystal Palace and Sunderland in the next fortnight.

A 1-0 win over West Brom before the international break was Norwich's first win in 11 – having lost eight fixtures in that run.

With just seven games left, Neil is hoping to keep Norwich in the top flight having earned promotion through the play-offs last season, but does not feel the upcoming games will be the be all and end all of their campaign.

"I think they'll go a long way, but I don't think they'll define what happens," he said.

"Whether we lose or win them, there's still huge work to be done. There are still four games remaining after that, but I think it will have a huge factor on where we end up.

"It (Newcastle) is big game for us. We need to make sure we put in a performance we know we can, but more importantly we need three points,

"It's one of those finely balanced games where I think looking at the table, Newcastle probably need to win the game more than us but it would be an absolutely crucial win if we could go and get it."

Neil is yet to decide if winger Nathan Redmond will be involved after returning to training with an ankle injury – but Scotland forward Steven Naismith is available despite missing the international break with a hamstring complaint.

Another player available is on-loan Dynamo Kiev striker Dieumerci Mbokani – who was caught up in the terrorist attacks in Brussels last week.

The Democratic Republic of Congo international was at the Belgium capital's airport when a two bombs exploded last Tuesday as part of an organised attack on the city.

Thirty five people died during attacks on the airport and at Maelbeek metro station, but Neil is sure Mbokani is in the right frame of mind to feature against Newcastle.

"Dieu's fine -–I've been with him Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," Neil said of the 30-year-old.

"It's one of those situations where it's a bit surreal. For anyone who has been in and around a bomb blast of any sort, it's an unusual circumstance to be in.

"We've tried to give him as much support as we possibly can and made sure he's in the right place physically and mentally.

"He had a right good game for us at West Brom in our last game. He's okay, I've spoken to him at length and he seems focused and ready."