A whole new ball game – and Jonny Howson is still hopeful Norwich City can rise to the Championship challenge and gate-crash the Premie League party
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The Championship promotion race is a whole new ball game from here for Norwich City and Jonny Howson.
With the international break offering a rare pause in the second-tier sparring, there were signs some sides previously motoring towards the Premier League might start to find the going tougher.
And while City remain five points adrift of the pack, their past experience and air of unpredictability will leave some wondering whether they could yet pull a late bid out of their season's embers – even without a permanent head coach.
'Certainly now you are getting to where the (games) can be (crucial),' said Howson.
'And when it's coming down to must-win games, that's where the real character or true reflection sometimes can come out. When you can do it in the big games and the big moments.
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'I think first and foremost, we need to take care of ourselves rather than thinking about if they slip up or if they lose. Obviously we need teams to drop points, but it doesn't make a difference if we don't take care of ourselves as well.
'I'd say the fact we did it two years ago is a help but it won't make the difference between whether it will happen again or not. The lads that have been there and done it before, we know we can do it again – but only if we give ourselves a chance.'
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City face six sides alongside them in the top nine before the season is done – a top nine they've taken just three points off since the campaign began; a top nine they've yet to taste victory against.
'Obviously it's time to change that,' added Howson. 'We've got a fair few of them to play come the end of the season.
'So yes, I think that's obvious for everyone to see, that we need to beat a side in the top six if we are going to make the play-offs.
'Obviously it's about time we did it rather than talked about it. There's no point saying we need to. The bottom line is we need to do it if we're going to give ourselves a chance of achieving something this season.
'If come the end of the season we've still not, we're going to be nowhere near.
'Regardless of what I say, it doesn't make a difference. It's what we do out there. Time will tell when we come up against them over the next few weeks.'
City will play five games in 17 days once the action resumes following the international break.