Russell Martin’s Scotland ambition
Norwich City defender Russell Martin believes his burgeoning second career can bring fringe benefits on the international stage with Scotland.
The 25-year-old has been a revelation at the heart of the Canaries' backline in the opening months of the Premier League season. Martin's displays at centre half earned a recent recall to the Scotland set-up before an ankle injury forced him to withdraw from Craig Levein's squad for the friendly victory in Cyprus.
Martin – who captained and scored in City's weekend 2-1 league win over QPR – is confident he can add to his solitary cap ahead of next year's opening World Cup qualifying fixtures.
'There's a friendly coming up in February and if I keep my form and keep playing I hope I'll get called up into that and use it as a chance to stamp myself in that squad and get in there permanently,' he said.
'I was gutted, to be honest. I hurt myself in training on the Friday, blocking a shot, just before the Aston Villa game. I managed to get through that but after the game I was just in too much pain. I was in a boot for a few days and I spoke to the Scotland secretary and the physio and the doctor and I said I was happy to go over there and join the squad, but I wouldn't have been able to train or play, so it was pointless, really.
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'They wanted to take another body who would be useful to them. I got called up as a centre-half, I spoke to them about that and it's somewhere I hope I can push myself and keep myself in that squad in that position. If I keep playing well down here, it takes care of itself.'
Martin was a key man in a City defence put under serious pressue against Rangers after Luke Young had cancelled out his early opener before Grant Holt's priceless match-winner. Martin insists the search for an elusive clean sheet should be put in perspective after three points moved the Canaries into the top ten.
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'As long as we win games, we're not bothered,' he said. 'We want to keep clean sheets as a defence. Don't get me wrong, it hurts when we don't keep a clean sheet. People can talk about it all they want but this is the Premier League. It's tough to keep clean sheets and I think we deserved a couple in the five or six games from Bolton to Blackburn, when I thought we looked really solid as a team.
'I don't think we got cut open at all. Bolton nicked a penalty against us and Sunderland scored in the 87th minute. Things like that are frustrating because you really feel like you've come off the pitch deserving a clean sheet. We need to get back to that. One will come sooner or later and when it does, it might make it a little bit easier for us.
'We're not under any added pressure because we haven't kept a clean sheet. We need to defend well as a whole team. It's not just about the lads at the back.'