Martin relishing close finish

  • Last Updated: April 19 2013, 13:17 BST

Norwich defender Russell Martin has issued a rallying call to the Canaries fans who might be getting a touch nervous as the battle intensifies to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

Russell Martin: Not nervous over season finale
Russell Martin: Not nervous over season finale

Norwich play rock-bottom Reading at Carrow Road on Saturday knowing three points would go a long way to securing their own survival in only their second season back in the big time.

Yet Martin is unconcerned that his side lie just four points ahead of 18th-placed Wigan and is looking forward to what could be the tightest of finishes at the bottom end of the table.

"What's not to relish?" said the full-back said.

"We are playing in the best league in the world against great players in great stadia week in and week out. What's there to be nervous about?

"To stay in this league will be an unbelievable achievement. We'll go to enjoy it on Saturday. That's what it is about and hopefully we will give the fans something to shout about.

"We have not been in a dogfight all season. It's getting a bit tight down there, but three points on Saturday and maybe some people will relax a bit."

If Norwich do survive then they will have Martin and his fellow defenders to thank, not just for their defensive attributes but for coming up with more goals than the club's strikers.

It is a remarkable statistic that the back four who started Norwich's unfortunate defeat against Arsenal last weekend, Martin, Michael Turner, Sebastien Bassong and Steven Whittaker, have scored 10 league goals between them.

Contrast that with the combined eight goals mustered by five strikers in the shape of Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson, Kei Kamara, Luciano Becchio and the departed Steve Morison, who is now with Leeds.

Martin is rightly proud of the defensive fire power.

"That's a good statistic. It's a sign of how good the set-pieces have been throughout the season and the lads' willingness to go and attack it," he said.

"Maybe it's a by-product of the way we want to play. It's been hard for Holty and Kei at times playing up front on their own. But whoever has played has put in a shift.

"It's a team effort. There are no egos in there who want it to be about personal glory.

"We're defenders first and foremost but I like attacking and everybody likes to get forward when they can.

"Turner has been immense and Bassong is a big player as well. They've done superb. They'll throw their body in the way of anything. It definitely helps having two down the spine of your team who are playing well."

Midfielder Anthony Pilkington is back in contention after his hamstring injury while Bradley Johnson has recovered from a knock he suffered against Arsenal.

Manager Chris Hughton will wait before deciding whether goalkeeper John Ruddy returns to the squad after playing two development games following his long-lay-off after undergoing surgery on his injured thigh.

With just five matches remaining, triumph on Saturday would make the run-in all the more routine and Martin believes that would be testament to Norwich's meticulous planning.

He said: "If we stay in this league this year, which I am 100 per cent sure we will do, then it is as big an achievement as anything we have achieved over the last four years.

"In the second season people have known a bit more about us and have paid us a bit more respect but it has been tough.

"We're three points off Newcastle who have spent a lot of money, QPR could go down and look at the money they've spent and we've done it on a budget, not gone crazy on anything.

"We've done it with lads who work hard with a group ethic. We've done it the right way. These are lads, myself included, who were playing League One level three or four years ago.

"The lads all want to be in the Premier League next season. That's the bottom line."

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