Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson is ready to take on a big beast
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Bradley Johnson views Norwich City's Championship trip to Derby as a perfect chance to prove they are have emerged from an autumnal slump.
Wins over Wigan and Huddersfield were a welcome boost after one win in the previous 10 league outings, but questions still linger about City's ability to mix it with their promotion rivals.
Middlesbrough dished out a painful lesson on Teesside and second-placed Bournemouth were full value for a Carrow Road point earlier this season. Johnson accepts Derby deserve to be placed in the same category.
'People might say this is the toughest game we will have played in the league, if you look at where they are in the table, but I'm looking forward to it,' he said. 'We know Derby have threats but we do as well. They lost to Chelsea in midweek but those results don't matter, it's all about the league.
'I saw a lot of them last season. They have good players and we watched their game last weekend against Boro when they found it tough. We got some ideas from that in the way Middlesbrough pressed them really high up the pitch and they couldn't handle it, so we will go and get in their faces. In this game we can't have any passengers. Everyone needs to be on their game.
'We have to pick up that form from the early part of the season but it is such a tight league. We are only five or six points off it so nothing is impossible because there will be six or seven teams I feel fighting it out.'
Johnson was one of those who paid the price during Neil Adams' search for a winning formula over recent months with a spell out of the starting line up, but the 27-year-old returned for the recent victories that included a goalscoring brace against the Terriers.
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'I said at the beginning of the season I wanted to play as many games as I could but I knew I would have dips in form and not be in the team all the time because we have a big squad,' he said. 'When I was out of the side I just had to get my head down and work hard in training and when the gaffer called me in again make sure I was ready. I think I have done that. Wigan was the first one back and we got the result and then we followed that up against Huddersfield.
'To score twice and play well was nice and a 5-0 win is good for morale. We know they were down to 10 but we came out all guns blazing.
'Every team has ups and downs. We've had a down but that is two out of two, but on any given day you can win or lose in this league. When we had a tough spell I think teams were coming to Carrow Road and hoping to get a draw and catching us on the break. That happened in too many games, and you can throw Nottingham Forest away into that as well. We gave it away in the last 10 minutes and they scored a winner on the break. We have shored it up, not gone more defensively, but more solid and it has worked.'