Alex Neil is relying on John Ruddy to help keep Norwich City in the Premier League

John Ruddy made his first Premier League start since November 29 against West Ham. Picture by Paul C

John Ruddy made his first Premier League start since November 29 against West Ham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

John Ruddy can lead Norwich City to Premier League safety.

Alex Neil brought his former number one back in from the cold following a series of high-profile errors and Ruddy responded with a solid return in the 2-2 top flight draw against West Ham that edged the Canaries out of the relegation zone. The 29-year-old's last Premier League appearance came on November 29, but Neil is convinced Ruddy is going to be a key figure over the run-in after replacing Declan Rudd.

'I took John out because I didn't think he was performing to the level he is capable of but I think he is looking a lot lighter and a lot fresher and I thought he was better,' said Neil. 'John has been there, seen it, done it and I think that can help us now at this stage of the season.

'His experience in this type of situation and his presence within the group is going to be important for us. Declan hasn't done a huge deal wrong to come out of the team but I just feel I have to put out the team I think has got the best chance of winning these remaining games.'

Neil admitted it was a case of déjà vu after letting a two-goal lead slip to squander two more points against the Hammers, who also denied Norwich a win at Upton Park earlier this season in stoppage time.

'Yes I think we have (lost four points to them). I think we probably played a bit slicker at their place, certainly in the first half,' he said. 'Here both teams attacked in a similar fashion and we nullified each other to a degree but it sparked to life in the second half. We were being the aggressors and to get two goals in front I definitely see it as points dropped. When you take the lead at this level you would like to try and see the game out, but I am not going to be hugely disappointed with it because it was certainly an improvement.'