There is an argument that the international break came at the wrong time for Norwich City in their pursuit of the Championship play-offs. 

After a run of six wins on the bounce at Carrow Road and a storming away victory at Stoke, they have had to sit on their hands and wait for domestic football to return. 

But with eight games remaining, Norwich City and David Wagner know what is required to finish the job. That should focus minds ahead of the run in. 

Wagner is not a rookie manager who is new to the job. He is vastly experienced and will know what is required to navigate through the various elements in play until the end of the season. 

In that dressing room, there will be players who are out of contract, beginning to think about their futures, or out of favour at present. Wagner has to keep it all together—something he has done tremendously this season despite constant chatter about his future. 

At this moment in time, it does feel like Norwich are gaining momentum at the perfect point of the campaign. 

That doesn't mean it will definitely result in a play-off position and it can change so quickly, but they are playing with confidence and in the box seat for a top six finish. They are hitting form at the right time, and that is always a necessity for a final charge in this league. 

There has been so much talk this season about atmospheres and feelings - but it feels like it is as strong as it has been for a considerable amount of time. That is down to the performances that this team has put in since the turn of the year. 

You can look across the team: Josh Sargent, Ashley Barnes, Borja Sainz, and Gabriel Sara in particular, and they have players coming into form at the right time. Confidence is a powerful tool, especially when there is a target to reach.  

There will be a bullishness inside the dressing room, but they have to stay level, hungry and relentless.

Right now, I suspect Wagner is happier than he's ever been at any point during his City tenure. 

But, and people won't want to hear it, it can all change. An injury to Sargent, a couple of defeats, and the whole picture alters again. That is why they have to remain consistent and not allow complacency to creep in. 

If you look back earlier in the season, Norwich were anything but convincing. They were limping over the line in certain games, and you weren't sure about their performance levels. 

Then, since the turn of the year, they have played and beaten teams in and around them. That has created confidence that has propelled them into a great position in the top six race. 

Nobody is saying this Norwich side has cracked it, but I do get the feeling, after the Stoke win, that there is a spark which hasn't been there earlier in the season. That is growing. Now it's about finishing it off. 

What they cannot afford to do is have an insipid performance against Plymouth and begin to crumble. They had that confidence on the bus on the way back to Stoke - they need to make sure it is maintained. That is not easy. 

Other than Rotherham, who is miles off it, every other side has something to play for, which makes this run-in even more heightened. We'd all love Norwich to win every game, but that likely won't happen, so maintaining emotional control will be so important. 

From a fan's perspective, everyone is looking at the Ipswich game, but it's pointless to do that as a player if you don't beat Plymouth and then fail to beat Leicester. 

So much of what happens will be about their mental strength and relentlessness. If they do that, then they will go really close. Then, they would head into the play-offs with real momentum. That is big. Who would bet against them right now?

I don't know if it's me, but there does seem to be a marked difference in mood and greater faith in the manager in recent weeks. That is helping unify matters on the pitch. 

I think Norwich will need to win five of their last eight to absolutely guarantee a top six place. That shows they cannot afford to take their eye off the ball. 

It all starts again with a revenge mission against Plymouth on Good Friday. 

That 6-2 defeat back in September was embarrassing for everyone connected to the club, not least the thousands of supporters who made the trip to Devon on that occasion. 

Four nil down at half time. Six all in. There is professional pride that Norwich's players will be looking to reclaim as they line up in the tunnel ahead of kick-off. 

When I was at Norwich, I had the Blackburn 7-1, I remember losing 5-1 to Spurs. When a team heavily beats you, there is a determination and an embarrassment that you want to put right. In my defence, the Blackburn team we faced had Alan Shearer, Gordan Cowans and Tim Sherwood in it. 

The Pink Un: I played in a 7-1 defeat to Blackburn during my Norwich City days.I played in a 7-1 defeat to Blackburn during my Norwich City days. (Image: Archant)

There are certain moments in your career when you think 'we need to put this right' and that is undoubtedly the case as Plymouth arrive at Carrow Road. 

But more than anything, it is staying on the right side of that determination and not becoming too emotional. There is still a job to do, and that is to get three more points. You have to play with your heads as well as your hearts. 

You get teams scrapping for their lives and their future - they are often more dangerous tests than facing teams at the top because you can find yourself relaxing. 

I remember the season I won the Premier League at Blackburn, in the last few games, we ended up losing to Manchester City at home, who were in the bottom three. That was considered a shock. 

Any team other than Rotherham is capable on their day, and Norwich has to guard against that—particularly on their road, considering their struggles throughout this season. 

I'm really encouraged by what we've seen in recent weeks. Now, they just have to keep their foot on the accelerator. 

It's all there for them - now they just have to stay on it and finish the job. It is all in their hands. 

The Pink Un: Sydney van Hooijdonk has been forced to show patience at Norwich City so far.Sydney van Hooijdonk has been forced to show patience at Norwich City so far. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)


It's not been the start to life at Norwich City that Sydney van Hooijdonk would have envisaged when he boarded the plane from Bologna in January. 

Since arriving in Norfolk, the Dutch striker has yet to start a Championship game or play more than 38 minutes. That is undoubtedly likely to have caused some frustration for van Hooijdonk. 

David Wagner's job is to pick his best team and the players who perform best in training and matches. It is a straight fight, and he is fighting Josh Sargent and Ashley Barnes. 

If neither were performing, he might feel hard done by, but it is his job to force his way into the side. Squeezing past Sargent is a mammoth task for any striker playing at Championship level because of the form he is in right now. 

When you're given little cameos from the bench, it is tremendously hard to make your presence felt. For strikers, it is about rhythm, especially when you're in a new club trying to form on-pitch relationships. 

But that has always been the case. It is based on performances, and van Hooijdonk cannot be doing enough, but it's easy to see why with Sargent and Barnes' performances in recent weeks and months. 

His dad was a magnificent player, and he will know the reality of the game. I'm pretty sure van Hooijdonk will not be sulking around. He has to be patient because Norwich may need him to produce a moment or two in this crucial Championship run-in. 

If Norwich are drawing a crucial game and need a goal, he needs to make sure he is in a position to be ready to make the difference. 

I was always pretty balanced with that during my career - I knew how good I was compared to other players, and if I was better or worse than someone or how my form was, I would always know that. There are pecking orders. 

His task should be to dethrone Barnes. He has a chance at that. But he needs to get himself into a position to be getting those opportunities.