Norwich City defender Russell Martin plans on the last laugh with old room mate Grant Holt
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Russell Martin knows Grant Holt better than he knows himself which is why the prospect of facing his former Norwich team mate at Villa Park holds no fears.
"We roomed together on away trips and it was an experience, but I would like to think I have added a few years to his career with some of the lifestyle changes I helped him make."
Martin and Holt were inseparable at Carrow Road on an unforgettable journey from League One before a parting of the ways that appears to have only strengthened the bond.
“I spoke to him on Thursday night and he is looking forward to it,” said Martin. “For 90 minutes we can put the friendship to one side and we’ll have a laugh after the game.
“It will be good to have a catch up and to see him, but he plays for Aston Villa and I play for Norwich so during the game that friendship means nothing. I’m sure he’ll try the verbals beforehand and I would expect nothing less but I would like to think I have better banter than him.
“Knowing him he would like more game-time but by the same token it wouldn’t surprise me if they had been wrapping him in cotton wool just for this one game. We’ll see. He is enjoying having another bite at the Premier League. It didn’t quite work at for numerous reasons at Wigan but he is enjoying it working for a manager he knows so well who puts a lot of trust and belief into him and who he has such a great relationship with.”
Martin does not miss sharing his living space with a player who as a predatory striker ranks up there with the best during his own career.
“We roomed together on away trips and it was an experience, but I would like to think I have added a few years to his career with some of the lifestyle changes I helped him make,” he said. “He is a good laugh and he is a big character. It was just his snoring I couldn’t put up with in the end so we ended up having to room apart.
“For what he did for this football club, and not just as a player and a leader, he was superb. I have played with a few good strikers but he is right up there.
“He is itching for more game-time (at Villa) and if he does play, great. It will certainly be different playing against him but we need to stop him doing what he does best and what he produced on numerous occasions for us. I wouldn’t have any problem if I had to mark him at a set piece.
“If there is a chance for him to smash me and vice versa we’d both enjoy that, but I don’t want him to score, or anyone for that matter, whether it’s (Christian) Benteke or (Gabriel) Agbonlahor. I want us to keep a clean sheet and win the game.”
Martin believes a first win over Paul Lambert since he left Carrow Road is long overdue.
“We probably have deserved more,” said the defender. “We should have won at Villa Park last season and the Capital One Cup game at our place for 60 minutes there was only one team in it and it all fell to pieces somehow.
“This season was the one when I felt we had chances and played well, like Cardiff City at home, and the only difference was Villa nicked a goal. We know they have that threat on the counter so that is one to be wary of. It is about us. We will try and dictate and play at the tempo and with the style we want.”