City defender Nelson waits for ultimate victory
David Cuffley Michael Nelson has no doubt that promotion with Norwich City would represent the pinnacle of his career - but has been in the game long enough to take nothing for granted.
Michael Nelson has no doubt that promotion with Norwich City would represent the pinnacle of his career - but has been in the game long enough to take nothing for granted.
The big central defender's season has turned round dramatically since his nightmare debut in the 7-1 home defeat by Colchester on the opening day, to the point where he is a regular part of a City team that held a four-point lead in League One ahead of today's trip to Huddersfield.
Nelson, 30 later this month, knows he is within striking distance of Championship football for the first time since moving into the professional game with Bury in 2001.
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But until such time as the Canaries are mathematically sure to go up, the man from Gateshead will not be counting his chickens.
“It's just another season at the minute and until something actually happens, you can't really put it anywhere,” he said.
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“If it goes the way everyone hopes it does it's probably going to be the best season I've had, but at the minute nothing's done so it's just another season in my career.”
Nevertheless, Nelson believes the signs are good after City bounced back from two defeats in three matches in February with three straight wins.
He said: “I think there was a lot of talk about us having a so-called blip when we lost a couple of games but the important thing is we didn't get back-to-back defeats. We always managed to bounce back, playing against some good sides.
“We've managed to string a few wins together now and some clean sheets as well.”
Nelson scored against former club Hartlepool on his first appearance under Lambert in August but injury and the form of others made it a stop-start season until his return to league action in the 3-0 home win over Huddersfield in December, courtesy of injury to Danish defender Jens Berthel Askou. He has not missed a match since.
“Just before Christmas I got in, luckily enough, and managed to stay in and form quite a good partnership with Gary Doherty,” he said.
“We have managed to keep the momentum going even when we suffered the two defeats. It's going to happen. It all depends on how you bounce back from it.”
Huddersfield's unbeaten home record makes them formidable opponents, but that record itself could act as a spur, says Nelson.
He said: “It gives you a little bit of a challenge. It gives you a little bit more of an incentive, but we still want to go up there and get the job done.
“I don't think we go out there thinking we've got any given right just to turn up and get the three points. You've seen how sometimes the game hasn't started too well for us but we've managed to dig in, grind it out and get a 1-0 win like we did at Oldham the other week.”
Nelson admitted that disastrous debut defeat had left its mark, but was now in the past.
He said: “It's going to affect you when someone goes and sticks seven past you. You can't just brush it off and say let's carry on. You've got to take stock, have a look at it, take what you can from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. Luckily enough, it hasn't.
“You go out and win a game, go out and win another game and it just snowballs. You just keep going and we've managed to roll it on. I hope it will continue to the end of the season.”