Alex Neil reveals Nelson Oliveira injury blow after Norwich City’s thrilling 2-2 Championship draw against Newcastle United
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Alex Neil revealed he faces an anxious wait to assess the extent of Nelson Oliveira’s foot injury after the Portuguese striker missed Tuesday’s thrilling 2-2 Championship draw against Newcastle United.
Oliveira had been in prolific form, scoring eight goals in 11 appearances, but was a notable absentee along with compatriot Ivo Pinto and Youssouf Mulumbu.
Neil rates Pinto a major doubt for this weekend’s league trip to Burton but it is the fitness of Oliveira that could have a major bearing on the club’s play-off push after being pegged back by the Magpies.
“Nelson is a concern. He has a bruised foot,” said Neil. “It might be something to do with the bone, which is not good. If it is what I fear I think probably four to six weeks. He will need to get a scan. The form he has been in that would be a huge blow for us. Like the last time in this league, we had the same with Lewis Grabban who rolled his ankle and was out for six to eight weeks. That is not fortunate for us. Ivo couldn’t put any weight on his foot and Youssouf was struggling with his thigh. With Ivo it will be touch and go for this weekend.”
Cameron Jerome grabbed his big chance to impress in Oliveira’s absence with the assist for Jacob Murphy and a simple tap in to cancel out Ayoze Perez’s first minute opener before Jamal Lascelles’ late equaliser.
“It wasn’t enjoyable to watch for me. Not at the end,” said Neil. “We had maybe seven lads who would be in and around it not available. When you are playing the league leaders and you have that quality missing from your squad it proves doubly difficult. Based on the game I thought a draw was a fair result. They had decent opportunities but we are bit disappointed with the goals we conceded because defensively we can do better than that.
“John Ruddy has to make a few saves at the end and he beats one away. It was two sides really going for it. Neither team was willing to sit in or hit on the counter. It really was who has the better players and that made for an entertaining, open game.”
Neil was at a loss to explain City’s sluggish start.
“You don’t expect to concede in the first minute. I thought we looked really nervy for five minutes,” he said. “We made quite a few fundamental mistakes which presented Newcastle with opportunities which is quite unlike us. Then equally once we got our first goal from then until half-time we were excellent. Our response from being down so early was great. When you are playing the league leaders and they score that early it can take the wind out of your sails. The second half we started okay. But we started to sink deeper and protect what we had. The frustrating thing from that point is we don’t go and see out the game. We had a few set plays in and around their box. Jacob Murphy got in behind them on quite a few occasions and put in crosses but we weren’t as aggressive as we normally are.”