Martin has point to prove after step up

PUBLISHED: 10:32 01 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:23 10 September 2010

Chris Martin, speaking at the Royal Norfolk Show, is relishing a return to action. Picture: Nick Butcher

Chris Martin, speaking at the Royal Norfolk Show, is relishing a return to action. Picture: Nick Butcher

Chris Lakey

Chris Martin says he is determined not to rest on the laurels of his best season in football and prove that he is a player of Championship quality. The Canaries striker bagged 23 goals last term - 17 of them in the league - as City took the League One title by nine points.

Chris Martin says he is determined not to rest on the laurels of his best season in football and prove that he is a player of Championship quality.

The Canaries striker bagged 23 goals last term - 17 of them in the league - as City took the League One title by nine points.

It handed him a return to the place where he made his name in stunning fashion as a teenager in the early weeks of 2007 - but he knows that there is plenty of hard work to do to prove to manager Paul Lambert that he is worthy of another crack at the second tier of English football.

“I think everyone still has to prove themselves from season to season,” he said. “You can't sit back and rest on your laurels and take last season for granted, you have to push on and work hard.

“I think that's what everyone in the squad knows that they have to do this year - everyone still has to prove themselves to the manager to get into the team first and foremost and then prove themselves on the big stage when we're playing the games.

“We will wait and see how it goes, but everyone is looking forward to the challenge.”

That challenge is almost certain to include new rivals for the striking roles, with Lambert yet to sign a new striker - and heavily tipped to be in the market for Gillingham's Simeon Jackson.

It adds to the pressure, but Martin says he expects nothing less.

“I would welcome any signings,” he said. “It is good to have healthy competition and if the gaffer want to bring another forward in, then it's up to him. Competition is always welcome for places and it always keeps you on your toes and it definitely pushes you to play better and perform better knowing that there are people behind you fighting for a place - or if you are the one that's fighting for your place, knowing that you can get into the team.

“I think we have signed some good lads, some talented boys, with good experience and hopefully they will all come together and we will gel together as a squad and push on this year.”

Martin and skipper Grant Holt scored more than half a century of goals between them last season and while that won't have gone unnoticed, City's Championship rivals are a big step up from League One.

“It's a whole new challenge for both of us,” he said. “I think it's going to be a lot harder this year.

“The Championship is a very competitive league with a lot of big teams in there, a lot of big teams that probably think that they should be possibly a league higher, in the Premiership. They have got bigger fan bases, they are bigger clubs and bigger names so we know how hard it is going to be so we are just going to work hard and see where it take us.”

Lambert has brought in five new players, with experience at all levels of English football, to give City what Martin believes is a mix of experience and hunger.

“It's an exciting challenge for everybody,” said Martin. “There are obviously people who have played in the Championship a bit more than others in the squad so they have the vital experience that is needed, but there are also people who are hungry for that experience as well.

“They have come from different leagues and they have various experiences at those levels so they are hungry to prove themselves at this level, at Championship level, and hopefully we will be able to do that next season.”

The work begins today, when City players return to that dreaded opening day of training at Colney, before their first outing, at Dereham on July 10, followed by a private training camp in Germany from July 11-18.

“I think the first test will be tomorrow as soon as we start training,” said Martin.

“I feel good in myself and raring to go. I don't think the lads have taken it for granted, I think everyone knows what levels they need to be at and we know it is going to be a tough pre-season to get us even fitter and get ourselves ready to compete at Championship level.”

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