Bertrand - City surrender is not a possibility

David Cuffley Norwich City's tenuous grip on Championship status has not dented the fighting spirit in the dressing room, according to their youngest first team regular.

David Cuffley

Norwich City's tenuous grip on Championship status has not dented the fighting spirit in the dressing room, according to their youngest first team regular.

A 3-2 defeat in Sunday's East Anglian derby at Portman Road left the Canaries with a steep hill, if not yet a mountain, to climb to avoid dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years.

With Barnsley, one place and one point ahead of City, playing their game in hand at Coventry tonight, the task could become even tougher for Bryan Gunn's men as they prepare for their final two matches.

But don't mention the R-word to full-back Ryan Bertrand. The 19-year-old, close to completing a full season on loan from Chelsea, insists there will be no surrender at Carrow Road.

“Everyone's positive. We don't even think about relegation. To be honest, the word hasn't even come up in the changing room,” said Bertrand, in line for his 60th senior appearance for City in just 15 months when they face Reading in next Monday's televised home game (7.45pm).

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“Everyone knows we can get a result when Reading come here. They're not in the best of form.

“Although we've lost at Ipswich we've been performing all right and the boys are more than confident we will win on Monday night.

“As we're not playing on Saturday, everyone will sit and watch the results coming in on Soccer Saturday but this week the results didn't really go our way. But we've got two games left and we're confident we can get six points.

“You want everyone around you to lose but regardless of the scores, the boys are still confident we can stay up.”

Bertrand admitted City had lost their early dominance at Ipswich but still felt it was a decent performance.

He said: “We are massively disappointed. The boys started off really well, taking the lead, and we seemed to be in control.

“But it's about momentum in football and I guess the momentum swung away from us and we could never properly get it back.

“But the boys dug in and did well and we had a few very bad decisions that went against us.”

The penalty scored by Giovani Dos Santos, awarded when Town striker Kevin Lisbie went tumbling over goalkeeper David Marshall, was the key moment of the match, said Bertrand.

“They say you don't want to keep blaming referees but these are crucial mistakes,” he said. “For the penalty, he's gone through, Marshy's turned away and he's run into Marshy. The ref hasn't given anything, the ball has gone out, the ref is looking at the linesman and he's not given anything, then he blew for the penalty.

“Surely Marshy needs the yellow card or red card if he thought it was a foul, or that he was stopping a scoring chance.”

Bertrand coped well with the threat of Mexican star Giovani when he ventured into his territory.

“When he stayed out wide I did OK, but he likes to get in the holes and it's quite hard to get near him. It was a good battle. I enjoyed playing against him. I think it's the third time I've played against him now,” he said.

“This season has been a good learning process. My performances started well then I had a bit of a dip, but now I feel I've come back really well towards the run-in at the most important time.”

Though Chelsea constantly monitor Bertrand's progress, where he will be playing next season is, like City's fate, still undecided.

“We haven't spoken about anything. I'm just playing my football and the future will take care of itself,” he said.

While Bertrand recovered from a calf problem to face Town, winger Lee Croft picked the same kind of injury and will be under treatment ahead of the Reading clash.

“Unfortunately my calf seized up, so hopefully it isn't too bad,” said Croft. “We think it might be a strain so we just have to monitor it over the next week.

“I've not played much football really and to come back into a game, maybe it's just put a bit of strain on it.”