Iwan Roberts confident City can bounce back

Michael BaileyFormer Norwich City striker Iwan Roberts is confident his old side has the 'bouncebackability' they need to get their automatic promotion push back on track.Michael Bailey

Former Norwich City striker Iwan Roberts is confident his old side has the 'bouncebackability' they need to get their automatic promotion push back on track.

The Canaries' defeat at Millwall on Saturday was their first in 17 games - a run that took Paul Lambert's side from the fringe of the play-off picture to League One table toppers.

City have not lost two successive games all season and attention is already focused on how they will respond to the weekend loss at The New Den when they travel to struggling Brighton on Saturday.

Roberts knows what it takes to bounce back after sporadic defeats, having been a part of City's 2003-04 Division One title winners who avoided consecutive league losses all season as they marched to Premier League promotion.

Roberts said: 'They're not going to win every game from now to the end of the season, they're going to have minor setbacks and I'm sure that is all Saturday was.

'Millwall is never an easy place to go and it was a massive game for Millwall. They've got their own aspirations - of finishing in a play-off position. I just think now it is about the way the players respond to having lost the game.

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'When it was us, we just had a steely determination to roll our sleeves up. We worked hard every day in training and we were so determined to put that result at the back of our minds and get on with doing the most important thing and winning the next game.

'Players are going to have off days. There will come a time where maybe six or seven players have off days and when that happens you tend to lose games. But I think those days will be few and far between for the club between now and the end of the season.'

The Canaries' last promotion-winning side, guided by Nigel Worthington, took top spot from West Bromwich Albion just before Christmas - but still lost four league games from that point until the end of the season.

And Roberts, third in the club's all-time scorers list with 96 goals in 306 appearances over seven years, believes now is the time for cools heads and City's experienced players to come to the fore.

'You've got a good mixture of a few young lads in the team and you've got experience in key areas, people like Gary Doherty, Adam (Drury), Rusty (Darel Russell), Grant Holt - you've got experienced players who can calm the younger boys.

'There is no need to panic. They will have seen it all before when they've been on a great run and all of a sudden people are saying 'oh no, they've lost a game - has the bubble burst?'

'They've just got to keep doing what they've done all season, they've got to work hard in training and do what's brought them the success they've had.

'One defeat in 17 games has been a fantastic run for the manager and the players. The squad of players he has got there and the confidence the team has probably still got even though they lost Saturday, they'll come up with another run - not maybe as long as what they've had, but I'm sure it'll be enough to see them through from now until the end of the season.'

Roberts currently works as a summariser for BBC Wales, and covered Swansea's 1-0 win at Crystal Palace last night, while he is hoping to take in City's home match with Southend on February 23. By that time it will be clear how the Canaries have handled defeat in London, with the visit of Southampton following Saturday's trip to the Withdean. Roberts added: 'The league leaders coming to town, a big club with fantastic support who should be playing in a higher division, I think opposition players in those matches will raise their game - that is something Norwich have got used to as the season has progressed and it's something they probably expect now. They'll come through it, I'm sure.

'I think it's been a good thing that Norwich have been knocked out of the cup competitions so they can focus on the most important thing for the club, and that is getting promoted.'