Thursday, July 12, 2012
Staying in the Premier League is still the number one target for Norwich City next season, insists defender Russell Martin.
The Scotland international has played a key part in the Canaries’ success story over the past three seasons, and missed only five matches last season as they clinched 12th place in the top flight.
And with the big kick-off under new manager Chris Hughton just over five weeks away, Martin believes staying at the highest level of the English game is the top priority for players and staff.
“I think it’s well documented the second season’s extremely tough for any team so for us as a group of players, we’d love to build on last season and the way we played,” said Martin. “We want to set our stall out the same way but I think the most important thing is staying in the league. I think if you ask the majority of fans, they’d say exactly the same. It’s about consolidating and making this club a Premier League team for years to come.”
Martin, speaking to Talksport on the third day of pre-season training, welcomed skipper Grant Holt’s new contract as a major boost to City’s chances of achieving that aim.
Top scorer for the past three seasons, Holt clinched a three-year deal with the Canaries last week, running to 2015.
The 31-year-old had asked for a transfer, sparking more than six weeks of uncertainty over his future.
“It was a good boost for the club just before pre-season started. The big man’s staying, so it’s really good news,” said Martin.
“He had a lot of suitors because of the season he had, well, the last three years he’s had, and he’s a big character in and around the dressing room as well. It was important for us to keep him and thankfully the management and the board have managed to do that.”
Martin also welcomed the arrival of defender Steve Whittaker and midfielder Jacob Butterfield.
“We’ve made a few good additions already and I’m sure the manager’s got his sights on other players,” said Martin. “It always picks up the squad, keeps people on their toes. Competition is really healthy.
“As footballers, you have to embrace competition and use it to improve yourself.”
Martin said City’s first few days of training held no terrors but he expects it to get tougher during next week’s trip to Austria.
“We’ve been back a few days and it’s been a nice light intro back into it,” he said. “The boys are out nice and early and we’re just looking forward to the next couple of weeks – and getting the hard work out of the way.
“I don’t think it’s dreaded as much as it used to be. At a lot of clubs now, you go in for your test and get your body fats done. All the boys were all right and I’m usually OK on the body fats, I was quite happy with mine.
“They were testing our leg strength compared to the end of last season and a few other things. It’s not too bad. It’s when you go on your tour in the second week, that’s when it gets a bit harder.”