Barnett: I would take fourth from bottom

Norwich City defender Leon Barnett is setting his sights no higher than 17th in the Barclays Premier League this season.

The Canaries are more used to challenging at the top end of the table lately, having secured back-to-back promotions. But playing in the top flight will be a whole new challenge for Paul Lambert's side and as far as Barnett is concerned it will be a case of job done if they steer clear of the relegation places.

'As far as I know the aim is just to stay up, and establish ourselves as a Premier League team,' said Barnett after Tuesday night's 1-0 friendly defeat at Crystal Palace.

'If it's fourth-bottom then we will have done our job, we want to stay out of the bottom three. I'd take fourth from bottom.

'I want to stay in the Premier League and play there next year and the year after.

'Last season everyone wrote off Blackpool from the start and they did well, they were a bit unfortunate to have Manchester United in the last game and go down.

'But that's done and dusted, we are in the Premier League now. We can take some positives from what Blackpool did and put them in our game, but we're not Blackpool, we're Norwich City.'

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For Barnett it is a second crack at the big time as one of the few City players with top-flight experience – he made 11 appearances for relegated West Brom in 2008/09.

The 25-year-old centre-half is also keen to put a nightmare injury spell behind him after a torn hamstring ruled him out for the final three months of Norwich's successful promotion run-in.

Barnett played for 63 minutes at Selhurst Park in what was his first serious game since his recovery and said: 'It's good to be back on the green grass and I'm trying to get as many minutes as I can before the first game.

'I'm as hungry as ever, just to play in the Premier League again and to play in it with the boys is a massive honour. I can't wait to get going.

'When Norwich went up from League One they didn't have much experience of the Championship. It's a proven fact we can do it.

'The gaffer has some good, work-horse players here and people who want to play in the Premier League, and that's probably the most vital thing.'

With four more friendlies before the opening Premier League game at Wigan on August 13 – starting at Southend this evening – Barnett realises there are no certain starters on the teamsheet.

'The gaffer is just going to chop and change – nothing is set in stone. There was a lot of pace there tonight but we have to learn different parts of our game,' he said.

'The main thing is to get fit and for me, I've got to work double time because I missed a big chunk of last season.

'Everybody is excited and can't wait to get ready and go. Everybody wants to be in that starting position against Wigan.

'There are four centre-halves here fighting for two positions, so you can't really say who's going to play.

'Having Premier League experience may help me a bit. I hope it does, but I'm not the manager.

'The manager picks the team and you've just got to try to break in.'

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