Chris Martin - We always had the belief

David CuffleyStriker Chris Martin said Norwich City's players never doubted their ability to get the club back into the Championship - even after their disastrous start to the season.David Cuffley

Striker Chris Martin said Norwich City's players never doubted their ability to get the club back into the Championship - even after their disastrous start to the season.

The Canaries clinched promotion from League One with a 1-0 win at Charlton, courtesy of Michael Nelson's first-half goal, and need just one point from the final three games to be crowned champions.

The 21-year-old Martin, who returned to the club last summer after a year on loan at Luton, has had a fruitful season, scoring 16 league goals - and 22 in all competitions.

But it was a campaign that began with a humiliating 7-1 home defeat by Colchester and few would have given City a chance of being promoted, let alone with three matches to spare.

'I don't think many people did, if you asked around the country,' said the striker.

'We still had the belief in our dressing room that we had a good squad but after the first few games it was looking like a very tough task. But I think we showed our character, our togetherness, especially today, to get the result here at a good side in Charlton - and not just here but in every single game.'

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Manager Paul Lambert switched from Colchester to Norwich 10 days after that crushing defeat effectively ended Bryan Gunn's reign, and his arrival triggered an amazing revival.

Said Martin: 'I don't think anyone can put their finger on exactly what it was that changed. But I think we all still had belief - it is the key word.

'We had plenty of meetings about it and we believed we could get good results because we had a very good squad, regardless of the first results.

'Now we're up I think the main feeling is relief. We've been there that long at the top of the league. We've finally done it and it's a great achievement by every single one of the lads. We're very happy and relieved.

'Everyone's delighted in the dressing room making that step back up again where everyone feels we belong.'

City achieved the win they needed at The Valley without suspended skipper Grant Holt and the injured pair of Wes Hoolahan and Korey Smith.

'Holty and Wes are the main people that we're missing today and they've been brilliant for us this season but we showed we could cope without them,' said Martin.

'You're definitely going to miss the amount of goals and assists those two have provided, but I think our gameplan worked perfectly today.

'We soaked up a lot of pressure and we got the sucker punch with Nels's brilliant header at the back post.

'Being on the pitch we didn't really know anything about the other scores. When I got on to the bench, I found out a few but I don't think the lads on the pitch knew anything about it and it's probably best that way because we could maintain our focus like we did.'

Martin, from Beccles, was the one locally born player in the starting 11 at Charlton.

He said: 'My mum used to go to Norwich games so I've got a lot of connections with the fans and I'm delighted as a player who's come through the youth ranks.

'I've been at the club for a long, long time and I'm just delighted to give something back to the loyal fans that have followed us up and down the country throughout this season and every other season I've been involved.'

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