Fit and healthy Martin able to concentrate on campaign
Norwich City defender Russell Martin has revealed the reason behind his emergence as one of the Championship's most consistent full-backs this season.
Martin suffers from an illness called ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease that normally results in ulcers or open sores in the colon. The problem was diagnosed when he came to Norwich, but when the specialist recommended that he shouldn't do too much physical activity, he knew he wouldn't be able to follow that advice – he had a League One promotion campaign to play a part in.
Fortunately, the summer break afforded time for Martin to get the disease under control and, combined with the right diet, it has allowed him to become one of the club's star performers so far this campaign.
'I had ulcerative colitis, which was quite heavy,' he admitted. 'I spoke to the specialist and he said to take a bit of time off.
'Obviously I couldn't do that with all the rigours that we were going through. It was a case of managing it and thankfully in the summer we've had a bit of time to get rid of it because it's not a very nice thing.
'This season I've been free of it and it's a massive thing for me to go into games feeling fit and healthy.'
Martin's fine form this season, which has seen him weigh in with four goals already, has earned him a new contract at Carrow Road until 2014, but by his own admission his delivery from the right flank was not what City fans have come to expect this season during the 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
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The point gained moved City up into the automatic promotion places, but Martin admitted the squad was slightly disappointed with their performance after missing out on the chance to close the gap on leaders QPR, who also drew at Hull.
'It was probably a fair result, we didn't do enough to win the game,' he said. 'It's a good clean sheet, but we're a bit disappointed with the way we played.
'It was just one of those days, the pitch isn't great at all. Our final ball wasn't good enough at times, myself included. In front of goal we had an off day, we can't put it down to anything but I'm sure that it will be put right.
'Games are coming in quick succession and February is a big month for us. We've got a lot of games coming up and we've got to make sure that we get it right. If we keep a solid base at the back like we did today then I think we'll be alright.'
Martin believes the fact that the squad were frustrated to have come away from Selhurst Park with a draw shows the progress that has been made this season.
Taking four points out of trips to Sheffield United and Crystal Palace is a decent return for a club whose target at the start of the season was to retain their Championship status.
'We didn't create enough, but to get four points from two away games against teams that are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table is an okay return, especially if we've got any aspirations of getting out of this league, which we have.
'We've given ourselves a good chance of doing that and I think the fact that we're going away disappointed just shows you how far we've come. Hopefully, we can put it right at home on Tuesday night (against Millwall).'
Martin revealed there is a feeling within the squad similar to last season's pursuit of Leeds at the top of League One and he hopes the squad can use that experience to keep themselves at the top end of the division.
'We've put ourselves in a great position and our target is just to maintain that and just try and stay in there if we can,' he said. 'We're in second now and it's nice to be in there. We're still in with a massive shout and the targets have changed like they did last year.
'This time last year we were chasing Leeds and the same thing is happening again. Whilst we can, we might as well have a go and if we keep picking up points then we will be there or thereabouts.'