Russell Martin impressed with Norwich City's centre-back pairing of Sebastien Bassong and Leon Barnett
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Russell Martin believes Norwich City are reaping the benefits of their new look centre-back pairing.
The Canaries’ first clean sheet of the season arrived in the goalless Premier League draw with West Ham United on Saturday – a feat City took until January to achieve last season.
And while the missed chances at the other end continue to be the subject of debate for most, City’s improved solidity under Chris Hughton has not gone unnoticed either.
Since his reported £3m arrival from Tottenham one week into the season, Sebastien Bassong has looked the part alongside fellow centre-back Leon Barnett – recalled to action after a lengthy spell on the fringes under previous boss Paul Lambert.
And Martin, himself looking as solid as ever in City’s right-back berth, is happy to see Norwich building from the back.
“Seb has done really well,” said Martin. “He went for £8m (from Newcastle) a couple of years ago so you know he’s going to be a good player, but he found it a bit hard at Spurs because of the finances they have there to get in players.
“But their loss is our gain. He’s a big, strong athlete and he likes to talk as well. It helps, he likes to chat, he’s a good character and he’s done really well.
“Credit to Leon Barnett as well for coming in the way he has the last couple of games. I think he’s been brilliant.
“Barney is a good player. He found himself unfortunate last season to be out because lads came in and did OK and he found himself out of it, but now he’s had a chance to come back in and he has taken it, grabbed it with both hands.
“They’ve worked really well together and I hope it will continue.”
With City being a little less expansive this season, Martin has found his own role a little more disciplined than in recent seasons – and he is fine with that, especially as he has still gone as close as anyone to getting City goals this season.
“I played centre-half for much of last season so it’s just getting used to playing at right-back again but I’m really enjoying it, playing behind Robert Snodgrass or Elliott Bennett or Anthony Pilkington – they’re all talented boys so you just give them the ball,” added Martin.
“Maybe it’s a bit less of an attacking role at the minute, but it has shown we are a lot more solid as a team. The back four stays as a back four and you join in when you want to. We’ve still got a licence to get forward but only when it’s really on and from a solid base. That’s what we’ve been working on.
“We’ve still got a licence to roam at certain times and playing with a winger in front of you is a lot different because you can give it to him and he will go and do the rest, but I hope that attacking impetus will still be there now and again.”