March 14 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, EDP Sports Writer
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Norwich City defender Russell Martin is ready to fight his Scotland international team-mate Steven Whittaker for a Premier League starting spot.
The versatile Whittaker can operate in a number of positions, including right-back, but Martin insists the summer signing from Rangers is a quality addition to Chris Hughton’s Canaries’ squad.
“If we’re rivals for a position so be it – that’s football,” he said. “Myself and Whitts can both play in a variety of positions. He can play right or left-back, in midfield or even at centre-back. I predominately play right-back or centre-half so I don’t know how it will work. But he’s a really good lad and I get on well with him.
“I’m sure he’ll come down and do really well. It will also be beneficial to the national team because he’ll be up against some top class players. Steven has come from a team that’s used to winning titles and trophies but down here it will be a bit different.
“It will be a tough season but with a good addition like Whitts I’m confident we’ll be more than all right.”
Martin’s ultra-consistent displays at full-back and central defence to help the Canaries seal another season of top flight football earned him a new three-year deal over the summer.
The 26-year-old admits establishing himself at Premier League level along with breaking into the international scene looked a distant dream when he was diagnosed with colitis whilst playing for City back in League One.
Martin is now a sporting ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and the defender is determined to use his higher profile status to raise awareness of the debilitating condition. “When I got my diagnosis the specialist was brutally honest and said: ‘We need to get this sorted because if you have this for a long period it will cause other things.’ It’s related to arthritis and you can get arthritic swelling around the joints, which is no use for a footballer,” Martin told Scotland’s Sunday Mail.
“You also get chronic fatigue. When I came home from training all I wanted to do was sleep. I was quite worried for a while but I took my medication and managed to avoid flare-ups. There’s no cure so you just have to treat and manage it. That’s the hardest part – to find the way that works for you. I was lucky in that I found out pretty quickly what I can and can’t tolerate.”
Martin has also backed his international captain and Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher to eventually make a similar return to the big time.
Fletcher was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis last season and has not featured in a competitive game for the Premier League runners-up since November 2011.
“We’ve texted each other a few times and spoken,” said Martin. “I told Darren what worked for me and sent him an e-mail of the food I stay away from. It’s different for everyone but I’m sure United will have some top people trying to help Darren.
“I found a way to manage it but it was scary and unfortunately Darren’s going through that at the minute. It’s such a hard thing to deal with as you get told conflicting things from different specialists. I was playing in League One with Norwich which is slightly different to Darren trying to play in the Champions League and Premier League.”