Michael Turner: Sebastien Bassong makes the Norwich City difference

Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner battle for the ball at Old Trafford. Picture by Paul Chesterton

Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner battle for the ball at Old Trafford. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Michael Turner has hailed sidekick Sebastien Bassong as the driving force in Norwich City's central defence.

The City duo have played a major role in helping the Canaries' keep nine Premier League clean sheets after Chris Hughton first paired them together for the impressive 1-0 top flight home win against Arsenal back in October.

Turner endured a bittersweet return to Sunderland at the weekend in a game where Bassong also conceded a penalty in a 1-1 draw, but both again underlined their value in a resolute defensive display with 10 men for an hour at the Stadium of Light.

'He has been brilliant this season for us – he is an experienced player in this league,' said Turner. 'He's been around a long time and he's a good defender and it's been nice to play alongside him and keep as many clean sheets as we have. It's a team effort, but it's been very pleasing from the back four's point of view to keep as many.

'It's something we're proud of as a team, the amount of clean sheets we've kept. If we can keep a few more between now and the end of the season, then I'm sure it will put us in a good position.'

Turner insists the Canaries' still have plenty of hard work left to achieve their ultimate goal over the run-in.

'We just want to keep as big a gap as possible to the clubs below us,' he said.

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'There will be twists and turns between now and the end of the season. We have big games coming up and I'm sure if we can get through those games in a decent position we'll be confident. This year is probably all about saying up again.

'When I first came here all people said to me was about second season syndrome and was that going to be a problem. I think we've proved we've competed more than enough and if we do stay up this year, the club will be able to invest in more quality players and put more strength into the squad and make us even better.'

Turner was a key part of the Hull side that survived by a single point in the 2008/09 Premier League season, but the 29-year-old does not have a specific target in mind for the Canaries.

'Personally, I haven't looked at a figure. As a group of players, we just take every game and try to pick up as many points as we can,' he said.

'It's different every year – I remember it was more than 40 points one year but I hope we won't need 40 and it will be all right. All that group around us will be looking to pick up points and keep the big gap between them and the bottom three. We're no different, we want to put more points on the board and keep that gap between us and the rest.'

Big-spending Sunderland appear in serious danger of being sucked into the survival scrap after failing to capitalise on City's numerical disadvantage on Wearside. Turner is adamant his former club is not too big to drop out of the Premier League.

'No, I don't think you can be too big a club to go down,' he said.

'If you look at teams in previous years who have gone down, you would never have thought it at the start of the season.

'When you are on a bad run it's difficult to pick up points and every team in and around that position needs to fight hard to pick up anything.'

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