Proving fitness and leadership to new boss was crucial for City skipper
- Credit: Denise Bradley
Grant Hanley was determined to shake off his injury problem and lead the Norwich City squad as Dean Smith began his reign as head coach.
City's captain had missed the 2-1 win at Brentford that proved to be the final game with Daniel Farke in charge due to a groin injury, which also prevented him from joining up with Scotland.
Hanley worked his way to fitness in time for Smith and Craig Shakespeare's first full training session at Colney last Thursday and came back into the starting line-up alongside Ben Gibson.
Playing on his 30th birthday, the Scot shook off a first half that combined an error for Southampton's goal and some shaky moments with important blocks, to rise highest and nod home the winner in the 79th minute - and score his first Premier League goal in almost 10 years.
“Injuries are part of the game. I worked as hard as I possibly could and I was as professional as I possibly could to get myself fit and ready for the new manager coming in," Hanley explained.
“Obviously it was a blow to get injured, I don’t really like to miss games, so it was difficult but I just worked as hard as I could. The medical team were great, I gave myself every chance possible and I was fit for his first training session.
“Then it was nice to get a little bit of confidence from the manager starting me, after only a couple of days of training.
“It was important, because we’ve got quite a young squad, for the senior lads to step together and really stand up to be counted for a new manager coming in.
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“With the situation we’re in, we need to show a reaction and take it as a turning point in the season.
“We’re off to a good start but there’s a long way to go and we need to keep moving forward."
City get a full week of training with the new coaching team ahead of Saturday's clash with Wolves at Carrow Road, as Smith takes his new squad in search of a third successive victory.
“It’s always difficult and during the season it’s difficult to change massive parts of the game, but I’m sure the manager will have his own ideas and philosophies that he wants to put across to us," Hanley continued.
“It’s up to the players to take that on board. We need to improve and obviously be more competitive at this level because we’ve not been the last time we played in the Premier League and also the start of this season.
“So it’s up to us to improve and for the players to do their jobs, to be competitive and get the results that we need to stay at this level.”
NCFC EXTRA: Hanley hungry for Norwich City improvements