Belfast Telegraph

Martin keen to prove pundits wrong

Norwich captain Russell Martin has turned a blind eye to predictions that the Canaries will go straight back down from the Barclays Premier League.

The Norfolk club secured a swift return to the top flight after winning the Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Middlesbrough in May, capping a superb run following the appointment of rookie manager Alex Neil in January.

Norwich were able to retain most of the squad who dropped out of the Premier League in 2014, and since promotion have added the likes of Robbie Brady from Hull, Andre Wisdom on loan from Liverpool and former West Brom midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, although he will miss the start of the season because of a fractured metatarsal.

Scotland defender Martin, who joined Norwich in January 2010 and was part of Paul Lambert's side which earned successive promotions up from League One, sees no reason to be anything other than positive about the challenges ahead, with the new campaign kicking off at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

"I could not care less (about the predictions), if I am honest. It is someone's opinion and we will see come the end of the season," said Martin.

"A lot of the pundits commenting have probably not seen much of us play, so we will go and show what we are about to hopefully prove a few people wrong."

Manager Neil is also determined to keep the squad focused on the job in hand.

He said: "I am used to it, the same thing happened to me at Hamilton when I was up there. Eight of out eight (pundits) had us finishing last and we were third at Christmas.

"It is people's opinion, but ultimately the proof will be what we can manage to achieve.

"We need to make sure we are competitive in every game and get the best you can from the players, which is all you can ask. I am confident if we do get that then we can have a good season."

Midfielder Jonny Howson penned a contract extension on Thursday and Neil is hopeful to further bolster the squad before the transfer window closes, with Norwich heavily linked with the likes of Dynamo Kiev's Congo striker Dieumerci Mbokani.

"Things are ongoing at the moment and it changes from day to day when you speak to different people, but we are still working on it," he said.

While Norwich do not face any of the leading sides in the opening few weeks of the new campaign, Neil is not taking the challenge of Palace lightly.

He said: "If you look at their expectations for the season, saying they would like to get European qualification shows where Palace would like to be.

"We have our own agenda and have to be focused on what we are trying to do, as well as nullify them.

"It will be a real test but I am hoping my boys can do themselves justice."


From Belfast Telegraph