Russell Martin happy to set about proving his point at Norwich City – wherever he plays
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It was good to be back admitted Russell Martin – and the Norwich City captain is already looking for a quick repeat, even at left-back.
The Scotland international made his first league appearance this season after a pre-season back issue – and although he started at centre-back, the skipper played all bar 12 minutes covering the role left by an injured Robbie Brady.
The win over Cardiff extended City's unbeaten start to the season at Carrow Road, ahead of Wigan's visit on Tuesday night.
'I enjoyed being back,' beamed Martin. 'As everyone, I've got a bit of a point to prove this year. Last year was tough for a lot of people, including myself. So it's nice to show people I'm still here.
'I've worked extremely hard, missed all of pre-season pretty much but I've had a couple of 90 minutes now including with Scotland, done a lot of double sessions. So I felt ready.
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'As it worked out I played left-back for most of the game but really enjoyed it – we dominated most of it, which helped. I was just delighted to be back, delighted to get the win and hopefully I'll get fitter and stronger from here.'
Martin added: 'We want to make this as tough a place for teams to come as possible. We've had an OK start, picked up good points and if we get three more on Tuesday, we'll have a good early tally.
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'Wigan is all we'll concentrate on now and we'll iron out the creases – especially with the set-piece goals we conceded. We're looking forward to it, the games will come thick and fast so bring it on.'
The debate around the ins and outs of a football match often dominate but sometimes, the only thing you really needed to get was a win – and that always felt like the case for City on Saturday.
Harangued and harassed from a distance following that thumping in Birmingham and the general perception of City's business as the transfer window closed, the reconvening of Canaries class for Cardiff's visit was about the final score.
That City made such hard work of something that could and really should been sewn up with relative comfort, was a clear source of frustration in the Norwich camp as well as in the stands.
But at least the three points provide some welcome room to improve – rather than panic ahead of the visit from newly promoted strugglers Wigan.
'That's what it was about and we said it before the game – after the last result and then the international break and the transfer window closing, it was just important to get three points,' acknowledged returning skipper Russell Martin.
'It was frustrating to concede two late, sloppy goals. We're frustrated at that as a team and it probably didn't feel as good as it should have going into the dressing room.
'But we're still delighted with the win. The performance was irrelevant. We had to fight, work hard and we did that – then our quality shone through in the end.
'You have to be patient against teams who get a lot of people behind the ball and they are decent at what they do. So it's just three points, we're up and rolling again – and hopefully we kick on from here.'
For Martin, it was a crucial weekend – the captain finally getting his fitness on track after a pre-season decimated by a back injury and in turn making his first league appearance, six games in.
'I'm a professional footballer and I want to play – that's what I'm paid to do,' said Martin. 'At the same time and as frustrated as I've been, I've not been banging the manager's door down because you have to respect that I was injured, the lads got a chance and took it.
'Then the Birmingham game happened, I went away with Scotland and you think you might have a chance when you come back. Fortunately for me I got it and hopefully I've taken it.'
And there was even a goal in the mix too – although Martin's header went in off Jonny Howson.
'I've got to be honest and say it's Jonny's,' added Martin. 'I'd love to claim it but it wouldn't be the right thing to do. So I'll do all the hard work for him and he can just nick it on the line.'
The only problem is Martin was originally credited with City's second goal both inside Carrow Road and out – and only the referee's intervention is likely to see that change,
'Oh, I'll take it then,' smiled Martin. 'No one told me that – if they had I'd have come out and claimed it! Did they announce that over the tannoy? It's mine then.
'I just put my head on it, looked up and straight away Jonny is going 'It's me, it's me'. Fair play to him. Dean Kiely has put him there for a reason and he's nicked a goal.'