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‘It was so much harder’ – City star has his eyes open over what is coming next

PUBLISHED: 17:02 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:02 22 February 2018

Nelson Oliveira is joined by James Maddison to celebrate his dramatic late Norwich City equaliser against  Championship leaders Wolves at Molineux. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Nelson Oliveira is joined by James Maddison to celebrate his dramatic late Norwich City equaliser against Championship leaders Wolves at Molineux. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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Forget the derby against Ipswich Town and taking on Championship leaders Wolves – it is Norwich City’s forthcoming fixtures that will prove as tough as they come for Daniel Farke’s in-form squad, so says Nelson Oliveira.

It’s been a run of play-off chasers and serious promotion contenders – plus City’s arch rivals – since Norwich took on Chelsea in the FA Cup during January’s early exchanges.

Yet the Canaries have suffered just one defeat in their last 12 matches, taking them back into the top half of the Championship table above Ipswich and clinging on to the very fringes of top-six contention themselves.

What comes next will go a long way towards showing how much progress City have made, as they face five of the Championship’s bottom eight clubs in five forthcoming fixtures.

City have seven wins this season against sides currently in the bottom half of the table – just two more than they’ve managed against those alongside them in the top half.

Nelson Oliveira fires from range with the last meaningful kick of the game to earn Norwich City a point at Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesNelson Oliveira fires from range with the last meaningful kick of the game to earn Norwich City a point at Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

And Oliveira – City’s late hero in the excellent 2-2 draw at runaway leaders Wolves on Wednesday – feels the challenges coming up are going to be tougher than what they’ve recently battered away.

“I think we are capable playing well against each team in this league because we have good players, a good group and a good manager,” said the Portuguese striker.

MORE: Daniel Farke hails Nelson Oliveira’s impact in Norwich City’s comeback draw at Wolves

“Now the ‘small’ teams come to play against us and we can’t think it will be easy because sometimes it is harder to play against Bolton than it is to play against Derby, for example.

Former Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy looks back agonisingly, as Nelson Oliveira's late shot squeezes home to earn the Canaries a point in injury time at Championship leaders Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesFormer Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy looks back agonisingly, as Nelson Oliveira's late shot squeezes home to earn the Canaries a point in injury time at Championship leaders Wolves. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

“I remember we played at Derby a few weeks ago and for me it was an easy game. I think we controlled all of it, we played so well. And I remember playing against Millwall, and it was so much harder.

“So we have to respect all the teams because all of them in this league, especially when they’re fighting for survival, it’s hard to play against them.

“We need to play the next games like we have recently, play well, play as a group and hopefully the good results will come.”

Trips to Barnsley and Hull plus visits from Nottingham Forest and Reading are preceded by Bolton, who come to Carrow Road on Saturday.

And Oliveira should have a spring in his step for that one, after his first goal in 12 games earned Norwich a point in the last seconds of injury time at Molineux – a trick Timm Klose helped City pulled off against Ipswich three days earlier.

“People just judge strikers by their goals but I’m not like that because I know that I’ve been playing very well the last few weeks and I’m working very hard,” said Oliveira.

MORE: Norwich City player watch as Denni Srbeny gets his full debut at Wolves

“But sometimes when you want really hard to score, the goal doesn’t come. Here it did come and I’m happy for it, but not that I was worrying a lot about it.

“For me, even scoring a tap-in feels so good. It’s all the same because I’m a striker, I like to score goals – but I also like to play well for the team, to work hard for the boys.

“For example, no one will praise Marley Watkins but I think he played really well here because he worked really hard.

“That’s all the people outside the stadium and I understand that because they’re fans. I think sometimes we don’t always get the credit we deserve, but it is what it is.”

Oliveira added: “The late goals say a lot. They say we keep believing until the end. Even the gaffer told us during this week that we are one of the best teams in the league for scoring in the last 15 minutes, so that should we are good in our physical preparation. We believe until the end and we have a great group.

“A late goal is always good because it feels like… We didn’t win at Wolves and we didn’t win against Ipswich but they both feel like a win. So it feels good to score at the end, but we need to keep going too.

“The fans can’t leave early, especially this season because we’ve scored a lot of goals in the extra time – but it shows we believe until the end.”

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

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Michael Bailey on Instagram @mrmichaeljbailey

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