December 11 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Last season it was Norwich City acting as the bright new Premier League upstarts, shaking up the top-flight order – and eventually shaking out a couple of established old hands.
But Saturday lunchtime, for the first time since their Premier League return, it will be the Canaries trying to dampen the exuberance of top-flight youth as West Ham arrive at Carrow Road – not that Russell Martin is unduly worried about the momentum boot being on the other foot.
“We know what to expect but I’d like to think we haven’t lost any of that energy either,” said Martin, freshly recovered from the ankle injury that ended early his spell with Scotland.
“That is what has got us here. We know that and in the last two games we’ve been right back at it. It’s going to be hard. We’re not the new boys, there is no surprise element and people know about us. West Ham, from watching them, know how they want to play. They’re full of energy, but they can play when they want to, get it up front quickly and then try and play.
“It’s up to us to stop them doing that and play our own way, especially at our home ground. We’ve been good there the last couple of years and need to keep that going. It’s for us to play at our tempo and dictate the game.”
Injury sustained against Tottenham prevented Martin turning out for Scotland over the break – and it had looked touch and go whether the full-back would miss games for Norwich too. However, the defender returned to training on Thursday and – barring any ill-effects – should play his part against the Hammers.
“I blocked a shot from Jermain Defoe in the second half and felt it straightaway,” said Martin.
“It was a similar thing to what I did last year and had to pull out of the squad.
“I had an injection and it feels better. It’s not ideal but it feels a lot better than it did…so it should be fine.”
Hughton added: “It’s a big boost for us because he withdrew from the Scotland squad…it’s been a little bit touch and go and we weren’t quite sure how he was going to react to training. But it’s pleasing for us because he has been a mainstay at this club and has had a very good start to his individual season so far.”
But for a few inches, Martin would arguably be City’s leading scorer this season – having seen headers come back off the crossbar against QPR and at Spurs.
“I’ve had two in a row – I keep getting in the box, so at least the gaffer keeps sending me up and I hope I get one soon,” added Martin.
“After the last two performances I don’t see how the lads can feel anything but confident going into this one.
It will be a tough game. We know how they want to play and they’ve come off the back of a good result as well.
“The lads are really, really confident. Training has been really good.
“The way the lads have played in that last two. We’ve been back to our best.”
Chris Hughton admitted Norwich’s soft centre again contributed to their downfall as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 5-1 Premier League win on Wednesday night at Anfield.