Friday 20 April 2018

Martin insists no confidence shortfall at struggling Norwich

Jim van Wijk

DEFENDER Russell Martin maintains there is no crisis of confidence in the Norwich dressing room despite a miserable festive run of four straight Barclays Premier League defeats.

The Canaries went down 2-1 at Upton Park yesterday, where a controversial early penalty awarded by referee Mark Clattenburg for shirt pulling set the Irons on their way to only a second win in 11 matches.

After going 10 games without loss, Chris Hughton's men have been edged out by West Brom, Chelsea and Manchester City as well as the Hammers inflicting a first defeat of 2013.

A trip to Peterborough in the FA Cup next weekend offers some respite, but former Posh defender Martin sees no reason why Norwich should not be confident of putting together another decent league run as they target the fabled 40-point barrier.

"Confidence is fine, there is no problem in the dressing room," said Martin, who netted a late consolation yesterday, his third goal in two games.

"I don't think it is an issue because of the way we have played against two of the best teams in the country, if not Europe.

"The performances were there, and it is really only in the first half against West Ham that we have not produced what we are capable of.

"The longer it goes on, you want a result, but if we continue to put the performances in then we will be all right."

Martin added: "There has been a tough schedule over Christmas - it does not come tougher than Manchester City and Chelsea at home, West Brom and West Ham away which are tough games.

"Fortunately we had a great run just before and now it is up to us to start getting results again.

"We need to be at the level we were in the second half to get results in this division because it is such a tough league."

Despite Norwich's poor current form, they remain seven points clear of trouble at the half-way stage.

Martin feels the gruelling demands of the Premier League will take their toll on all the sides battling to retain their top-flight status.

The Scotland international added: "The 10-game run has given us a little cushion over the other teams so as long as we pick up a few wins, and keep away from them, then that's fine because other teams need to capitalise and winning games in this league is tough, as QPR and Reading are finding.

"We have done a lot of the hard work, now we just need to get a few more wins to get over that line and then we will be comfortable."

Norwich were again without captain Grant Holt who is sidelined by a hamstring problem, while Wales forward Steve Morison has a thigh injury.

Although on-loan Tottenham striker Harry Kane produced a workmanlike display at the head of the Canaries attack at Upton Park, Hughton is expected to move for attacking cover during the January transfer window.

Norwich have been linked with Brighton's Craig Mackail-Smith, Utrecht's Jacob Mulenga and Monaco's Ibrahima Toure as well as Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray.

Hughton refuses to be drawn on specific targets, but accepts it is something he will look at over the coming month.

"If you look at Holt and Morison as our main two strikers, it would probably be the same anywhere - most clubs would find it hard," he said

"You have to look for a way around that one, so it is an area which we know we will be light on if we have injuries and it will be up to me to see if I want to address that."

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