Norwich City defender Russell Martin braced for Premier League battle at Blackburn
Professional football is a cut-throat business – which is why Russell Martin will put all sentiment to one side to try and push Blackburn a step nearer the Championship.
City's right-back is acutely aware just what is at stake for a Rovers' squad facing an uncertain future should Steve Kean's men fail to avert their alarming slide.
Blackburn's fans have scheduled fresh protests before tomorrow's game at Ewood Park to vent their vocal frustrations at the downward spiral presided over by Kean and the club's hierarchy.
Martin has plenty of sympathy, but his loyalties remain to the Canary cause.
'If you're in that situation it's tough but unfortunately that's the way the game is these days,' he said. 'Steve Kean, considering all the stick he's taken, has done a creditable job there. He's had to play a lot of youngsters, players have left, he's had a lot of injuries. It is tough as a group of players, but I think it can unite you as well. That's probably how they've used it in certain games this season and I'm sure they'll be trying to use it again on Saturday to try to get together and have a go.
'I think once you cross the white line, for 90 minutes you have to focus totally on the game. You forget about all that goes on, really – everything in your personal life, what's going on at the club, any protests.
'For 90 minutes you go out and give everything for the football club, for yourself and personal pride. So I don't think it should affect them too much going out on to the pitch.'
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Martin was part of a Norwich defence mauled by Manchester City at times last weekend, but the degree of difficulty on a weekly basis in the big league gets little easier.
'It's just as hard. If anything, it's a bit harder,' he said. 'They're fighting for their lives. Manchester City know it's out of their hands at the minute with United, but Blackburn, they've got to do it, they've got to win the game.
'There are protests against their manager and all that going on but, for us, that probably only makes them more dangerous to play against. They've been on the back of a bad run recently but anything can happen down the bottom as Wigan showed last week.
'Blackburn were a good team when they came here earlier in the season. I think people saw that. We got a last-minute equaliser that day but it's going to be a reallt tough game. First and foremost, win the battle and earn the right to play and then once we do, stamp our authority on the game.'
Martin admits he is surprised at Rovers' trajectory since that impressive 3-3 Premier League draw at Carrow Road in late October.
'I am, especially as they had a couple of good wins – Manchester United away – and I think even pundits were saying this could be them safe after going on a little run,' he said. 'It's gone back the other way but that's what can happen at the bottom. Inconsistency has probably put them there in the first place but they're a good team. They've got a real threat going forward. With (Junior) Hoilett and Yakubu they've got goals in their team. They were a good side when they came down to Carrow Road earlier on, so we know it's going to be a tough, tough game and we've got to be right at it, as you have to be in every game in this league, otherwise you get punished.'