Elliott Bennett is looking to a bright Norwich City future
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City midfielder Elliott Bennett insists the Canaries expect no let up in the ferocity of Premier League combat this season.
The 24-year-old has played his part in helping City sustain their top-flight status over the past two seasons, but despite a summer influx of expensive talent Bennett is adamant Chris Hughton's squad will have it all to prove again.
The Canaries finished a comfortable 11th after winning their final two Premier League games of a testing campaign and Bennett, speaking yesterday at one of City's USA training bases on the impressive Stanford University complex in California, believes the challenge is to try and repeat that feat.
'Last year was brilliant but it has been and gone now and you have to realise everyone is on a level playing field,' he said. 'The squad has changed a little bit and the new lads who have come in have already been quality around the place.
'We've brought Leroy (Fer) and Ricky (van Wolfswinkel) in and it probably helps them they are from the same country and can speak the same language. Nathan (Redmond) is a lively lad and he has integrated really well. It's great to have the new lads on the board and have that competition. It's also good that we can really get to spend so much time in each other's company. You don't go home after training and you all mix together.
'This trip is all about working on fitness, but you also have a chance to bond and I think the new lads have to do their initiation song later this week, along with a few of the staff. It's also been good to catch up with the other lads and hear their stories over the summer.'
Bennett admitted the opening weeks of pre-season have been predictably gruelling.
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'I think in the early stages of the season you just want to train as hard as you can and try and put yourself in the frame for the start of the new campaign,' he said. 'You have to try and impress and get that starting place in the team so everyone is training hard. We were in Austria last week and that was very, very tough. We were doing three sessions a day but you need to get that base fitness, but we went off and did some rafting and that was good fun with the lads and the staff.'
Bennett was one of a number of City players to be suitably impressed by the quality of their Stanford University training base in southern California.
'There are not many better places you would want to come out and train. The facilities are magnificent,' he said. 'This place is amazing. It is no surprise to see why Americans are so good at sport with these facilities. Pre-season is tough but you might as well do it somewhere nice if you are going to do it. It's good to come over here and fit in the hard work. We did a lot of running in Austria. A new fitness coach has come in and they have made it clear that everything we do now is designed to get us fit for the start of the season. Normally you do a lot of running pre-season, we are doing that but with a ball which makes it a bit easier to deal with. These temperatures are tough but its all part of the process you have to go through.'