Russell Martin determined to enjoy Norwich City's promotion push
PUBLISHED: 16:28 08 March 2011 | UPDATED: 16:28 08 March 2011
Focus Images 2011
Defender Russell Martin has a straightforward attitude to Norwich City's bid to secure a second successive promotion: "Let's go for it!"
The Canaries take on Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium tonight (7.45pm) just two points adrift of the second automatic promotion spot – the first of 11 Championship matches that will decide whether they go straight up, book a play-off place or miss out on the top six.
The ever present right-back believes he and his team-mates should enjoy every minute of it as they bid to take the club back into the Premier League after a six-year absence.
“Nobody expected us to be up here at the start of the season and now we are,” he said.
“There is no added pressure from anyone inside the camp. The lads put pressure on themselves, as they have all season, to go out and do the best they can.
“It took a while in this league to realise we were good enough to compete, to be up there among those top teams, but now we have that belief that we warrant a place there. That brings a different kind of pressure but that happened last year. “We were chasing teams but when we got there we had to stay there. We’re probably more capable of coping with that this year than last year. We thrived on it last year and I hope it will be the same this time round.”
City dropped two points in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Preston but four of their rivals lost – including tonight’s opponents.
Said Martin: “There will be loads of twists and turns before the end of the season so we need to rely on ourselves, not other teams around us.
“As long as we pick up results and stay in that pack we’ll be OK.
“It’s exciting to be involved in. We’re chasing promotion to the best league in Europe. It’s something you dream about when you’re young.
“As professional players it’s where you want to play. There is nothing worse than coming to the end of the season and being in mid-table obscurity and not playing for anything. The lads are absolutely buzzing. It’s where we want to be. The goal is there – the target is a realistic target now and with 11 games left, people are going to drop points.
“It’s up to us to focus on ourselves and we’ve got a great chance of achieving what we want to achieve.”
Martin, 25, chasing a personal promotion hat-trick after going up from League One in the past two seasons with Peterborough then Norwich, knows Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men are among the most dangerous of the chasing pack.
He said: “Leicester and Hull and teams like that have made a great surge recently.
“They’ve been on a great run of form with their comparative riches compared to the rest of the league.
“If Leicester had started better, they’d probably be in amongst it as well, but both teams will fancy their chances of getting into the play-offs and we’ve got both of them in the next couple of weeks, so they’re big games.
“Leicester have international players, but we know what we’ve got to do to get a result. Yakubu’s been in the Premier League for years and scored goals even up to last season, so he’s someone we need to keep an eye on but they’ve got players like Vassell, Gallagher, King – a lot of quality in their side so it’s not just one person we have to look after.”
Competition for places remains fierce as the season heads into the home straight but Martin said the collective spirit outweighed any individual disappointment from players spending time on the bench.
“Adam Drury hasn’t played the last two games but he’s someone you can bounce anything off. He’s great around the squad,” said Martin.
“There are other players who haven’t played as much as they would like but there is not one character in there who would sulk and spit his dummy out if he was not playing. They’re all great to have around.
“We’re all geared to achieving one thing and we all want the same thing so I can’t see why there would be any disharmony in the camp because we all want one thing, to achieve promotion and if we can do that it would be an unbelievable feat.”
City have lost just two of the last 21 league matches, but drawn 10 of them.
“We’ve probably picked up a few too many draws for our liking but it’s a great run to go on,” said Martin.
“If you’re hard to beat, first and foremost, it’s a great formula to have.”
Martin says manager Paul Lambert’s faith in his playing staff has been a major factor in this season’s successes.
“I think the gaffer might have tried to bring one or two faces in, but I think he has got total faith in this squad and we have got total faith in the gaffer and each other as well and I think that stands you in good stead and takes you a long way,” he said.