‘Who thought it would be any different?’ - skipper on Norwich City top-flight introduction

Grant Hanley insists the mood in the City dressing room remains upbeat. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Grant Hanley insists the mood in the City dressing room remains upbeat. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Norwich City’s Premier League travails have come as no surprise to the players, insists Grant Hanley.

The Canaries go into their Boxing Day six-pointer at Aston Villa firmly ensconced in the relegation zone in danger of slipping to the bottom over Christmas as a resurgent Watford feel the new manager bounce of Nigel Pearson after a surprise win on Sunday against Manchester United.

However, Hanley said the City squad were prepared for a tough campaign but feels their inexperience at top-flight level can work for them in this situation.

"It's tough but I'm not too sure who thought it would be any different, we knew it was going to be tough," said the City skipper, who made his first appearance for three months in the 2-1 defeat against Wolves after groin and hernia surgeries.

"I suppose the good thing about it is that we've got a lot of young lads who are sort of naïve to that and just keep going.

"So it's up to the senior lads to pull everyone together and keep them positive, drag the lads through. If we get a good result we cannot get too far ahead of ourselves and if we get a bad result we can't be too down about it, we need to keep moving forward and stick together."

City have showed on several occasions this season how they can live with what top Premier League sides have to offer for periods.

However, most of their performances have not been converted into points, but Hanley insists City can take heart from their recent displays.

"We've had periods like that throughout the season where we've done well, there's not been many games where we've not competed - the last game against Villa is probably the only one," he added. "It's up to us to keep building on that, take the positives, learn our lessons and keep moving forward and stick together."

Once again set-pieces proved to be City's Achilles heel against Wolves but Hanley believes the Canaries have tightened up in other areas.

"I feel like the last few games we've not been threatened too much in open play," he added. "Like I've said, you've got to learn your lessons but you can't get carried away in specific areas because then everything else goes to pot.

"You just need to tighten up a wee bit, make subtle changes and learn your lessons. It's the Premier League and there's lots of games coming up so I'm looking forward to that."

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