Norwich City's character is being sorely tested concedes Steven Whittaker, as their Championship campaign lurches on to its latest disappointment with defeat at Aston Villa
PUBLISHED: 14:17 02 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:36 07 April 2017
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Norwich City's character is being tested to the limit - but Steven Whittaker still hopes good will come from it.
The same old failings underpinned the Canaries’ 2-0 defeat at a rejuvenated Aston Villa, where a better performance still fell short of bringing a rare away win.
City have not won at Villa Park since 1992 – and seem set to get another go at changing that record next season, given their latest defeat leaves Norwich one step closer to having their promotion hopes mathematically ended.
“I think this is the toughest test of character you can go through,” said Whittaker.
“It’s definitely a test like that. It probably makes you grow as a footballer. Definitely for everyone in the squad, we will grow and learn from the experience of being in this position, and hopefully it’ll drive you on to not be in that position again.”
Saturday’s defeat was the first under caretaker manager Alan Irvine, in his third game in charge.
“I think he’s done great since he’s come in,” said Whittaker. “His knowledge of the game, where he’s been. He’s been a calming influence and everyone has taken on board what he’s trying to do.
“We feel like we’re doing that on the pitch. It’s hard to keep saying that when here, we never got that result to match what we were trying to do. On another day we might have just nicked something.
“It’s probably the overriding feeling in the changing room – that we had the game plan we’ve worked on all week, we’ve demonstrated it on the pitch, but not come away with anything.
“Goals change games and if we’d got that first goal, the crowd might have turned and we’d have kept possession, which we were doing even though we were behind – I thought we moved the ball really well – and then we could’ve gone on and got a couple more. But we couldn’t get that breakthrough.”
City’s run-in is as hard as they come, emphasised by Wednesday’s trip to promotion hopefuls Huddersfield Town.
“It’s hard to say it’s gone when it’s still mathematically possible,” said Whittaker. “We’ve got a game on Wednesday against a team that’s above is. So it’s a chance to claw three points back on them.
“We’ve just got to try to keep in and around it as much as we can. There are still a few games to go and we’ll keep plugging away to get the results we need.”