Russell Martin certain Norwich City will avoid Premier League relegation
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Defender Russell Martin is 100 per cent certain Norwich City will be playing Premier League football next season, boldly asking: 'What's the point being nervous?'
Despite just one win for the Canaries in the past 16 league games, the Scotland international goes into tomorrow's match against bottom club Reading at Carrow Road (3pm) supremely confident they will retain their top-flight status.
Chris Hughton's men are 14th in the table, just four points clear of Wigan, who occupy the third relegation place but have one game in hand.
Nevertheless, Martin believes City will bounce back from their shattering experience in the 3-1 defeat at Arsenal and collect the points they need from their final five matches, three of which are at home.
He said: 'There is no more pressure than usual, really. I think it's been hyped up a little bit more outside than it has in the camp. For me it's another game in the Premier League, each is as important as the next, and it's a game we believe we can go and win.
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'Points at this stage of the season are vitally important to us for the place in the table but it's been like that all season.
'What's the point being nervous? We're playing in the best league in the world, playing against great players and in great stadiums. I'm still enjoying it and I'm sure the boys are. Maybe other people are looking at it and thinking it's getting tight, but it just adds a bit of excitement for the fans.
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'I've said it all along. We'll stay up. I believe that 100 per cent – there is no doubt in my mind. If we win tomorrow, it will go a long way to achieving that.'
The 27-year-old full-back admitted the Canaries could not afford to go to Manchester City on the final day in the same position as Queens Park Rangers last season, with their fate still in the balance.
'For the neutrals it would be exciting but for us it would be a nightmare,' said Martin.
'If it goes that way, it goes that way but for me, with the quality in the squad and the games we've got, we should have it done by then. We should go into the last game knowing we've secured Premier League status. I believe we'll be all right.'
As such, he has not spent anxious hours studying the struggling clubs' Premier League results and fixtures.
'It would scramble your brains if you kept looking at it and asking 'Are they going to win there or win there?' Wigan nearly pulled off a good result at Manchester City. I had a look and went to bed thinking it was 0-0. I woke up and saw City had scored – happy days.
'We're in a good position. People keep talking as if we're in the bottom three and it's a bit frustrating sometimes, even friends of mine. We haven't been in there for a long, long time, since the bad start to the season. Since then we've been fairly comfortable around that mid-table area.
'We've not been in a dogfight all season. It's getting a bit tight down there, keeps everyone entertained, but three points tomorrow and maybe a few people will loosen the top button on their trousers and relax a bit.'
Hughton hinted that goalkeeper John Ruddy may have to wait a little longer for a senior recall despite playing two matches for City Under-21s after nearly five months on the sidelines following a thigh operation.
Said Hughton: 'He will continue to put himself in contention by the fact he has played two development games, but also we are conscious he has been out a long time.
'We will endeavour to get those decisions right but certainly in Mark Bunn we have a 'keeper who has done very well.'
Winger Anthony Pilkington, who has missed four matches but would have been fit enough for the Arsenal game if selected, and forward Wes Hoolahan should both be back in contention, while midfielder Bradley Johnson hopes to recover from a dead leg after being substituted at the Emirates Stadium.
Hughton, meanwhile, denied there was an escape clause that would allow £8.5m Dutch signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel to wriggle out of joining the Canaries from Sporting Lisbon in the summer if the club was relegated.
He said: 'I have heard those reports but the facts are that he has signed for Norwich City and I expect to see him on the first of July.
'Any talk of a relegation clause in the contract is not fact. That is where we are and we look forward to seeing him next season.'