John Ruddy confident Norwich City can prove the doubters wrong
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
John Ruddy has revealed the burning desire to prove they belong in the Premier League is what drives Norwich City's squad.
Ruddy was part of a core group who suffered relegation in 2014 before setting the record straight in style at Wembley, and this weekend's latest trip to Southampton is another chance to show Alex Neil's squad can cut it at the highest level.
'Did we deserve to go down last time? Well, yes, because over 38 games we were not good enough,' said Ruddy. 'The league table doesn't lie but we believed individually we were good enough to be at this level.
'We had to bounce back and we did that in the best possible fashion. Now we have acquitted ourselves in the opening three games.
'We have a young, hungry squad with players who are eager to prove they are Premier League players; myself included, and we have the bulk of a squad who got relegated two years ago and are still together.
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'I think there were loads of doubters and people tipping us to go down but we have showed we can hold our own and we will surprise a few this year. The quality of player you came up against the last time we were in this league was high and it has been raised again. It is outstanding, but we know as long as work hard we stand ourselves in good stead.'
Ruddy predicts another assureddisplay on the south-coast tomorrow is unlikely to change perceptions beyond the borders of Norfolk.
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'If we get a result against Southampton they will probably still find something wrong with Southampton's performance,' he said. 'They rarely praise us but we are quite happy to fly under the radar. Maybe people will praise us when they feel we have earned it but it is no skin off our noses.
'It will be a tough one. We went down there last time and they were a very good team, the same last year, but we are geared up for it. We're feeling positive in the fact we have had three decent league performances, four if you count the cup as well.
'Maybe the first game we were a bit naïve. We didn't capitalise and they did and it will cost you in the long run but we learnt our lesson, played extremely well at Sunderland and I felt we blew them out of the water. We then played very well against Stoke and deserved to win so we are executing the jobs the manager wants us to.'
Ruddy, however, knows Norwich must cut out the soft set-piece concessions that have hindered early league progress against Sunderland and Stoke.
'We've conceded four goals from either first or second contact on set pieces so clearly that is something we have to work on,' he said. 'The most disappointing thing is we deserved clean sheets against Sunderland and Stoke. It's a bit of slack marking and not executing your jobs. Everyone has a job on a set-piece and if you concede there is no hiding place.
'If we are winning games and picking up points I don't mind conceding four goals a game, but there is no pointing fingers. The person knows if their man scores they are at fault so you don't need to batter them. You just have to be switched on until the ball is cleared or goes dead.'