Jonny Howson knows he has to raise his game at Norwich City
Jonny Howson is under no illusions he will have to raise his game along with the rest of Chris Hughton's squad to shine for Norwich City in the Premier League this season.
Howson was one of the stand out performers in the back-to-back top flight wins over West Brom and Manchester City that propelled the Canaries to an impressive mid-table finish in May.
The Yorkshireman has since seen an influx of high-class signings arrive over the summer with the likes of Dutch international Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond adding to an already congested battle for starting spots in Hughton's first choice midfield.
'They are well-known players with big reputations and I think it is exciting times for Norwich,' said Howson. 'Personally, I am someone who likes to get away from it when the season ends and try and switch off but it is difficult because we are all interested in the game. That is why we play it so you are checking to see the ins and outs throughout the clubs, not just here, and I'm sure the fans are looking forward to it as much as we are as players.
'We've spent time now with these lads and I must say they are top quality players. We can see from the friendly games and especially on the training pitch that we have brought in top players and there is real competition for players. It is healthy and it is what you need. I think we have made some excellent signings this summer.'
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Howson believes raising that quality threshold ensures no-one within Hughton's squad can take their place for granted.
'I think right across the side you can see players will have a fight on their hands with the new lads coming in,' he said. 'The majority of signings were done early on and that has helped them to fit in well. We spent a bit of time away in Austria and America and when you are together for long periods of time it makes a big difference. I'm just looking forward to the new season. When you come back for pre-season you focus on your fitness and match sharpness. Then when you've had a few games you want the season to start. I think the only thing that really changes each pre-season is the fact you see different faces around the club with the new signings.'
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The 25-year-old notched a sharp close range finish at Brighton over the summer to suggest he is in the mood to carry on where he left off after two superb individual strikes in the final week of the previous campaign.
'As a player for me personally the aim is a simple one - I just want to play as many games as I can,' said Howson. 'I was a little bit in and out until the back end of the season so I would like a consistent run. For the team it would be nice to carry that sort of form over as well, but we've all been around the game long enough to know you can't predict anything.
'It was a good end to the season for us and we finished in a very respectable position. If you had looked at the table with about four weeks to go last season you would have seen how congested it was and they always say it gets tougher each season.
'Every team wants the same thing. There is always a surprise package along the line and this time around will be no different.'
Howson has special reason to relish Everton's opening day visit after notching his first-ever Premier League goal for the Canaries in a 2-2 league draw at Carrow Road over Easter 2012.
'It's something I will remember for a long time. It was a nice feeling,' he said. 'We drew that day so hopefully we can get the three points this weekend. They've got a new manager but they have experienced players and I'm sure the majority of that team have gone through something like that before and you know as a player how to apply yourself.
'They've kept hold of their better players that have been linked in the press with moves – people like (Leighton) Baines, (Marouane) Fellaini and (Steven) Pienaar. They are probably the stand out ones, but we are well aware of the threats.'