Fleming: We can compete next season

Club captain Craig Fleming will go into his 10th season with Norwich City insisting that they can live with the best in the Coca-Cola Championship.The pre-season favourites for promotion finished ninth in the table, 13 points adrift of the top six, after yesterday's 2-1 defeat by Wolves at Carrow Road.

Club captain Craig Fleming will go into his 10th season with Norwich City insisting that they can live with the best in the Coca-Cola Championship.

The pre-season favourites for promotion finished ninth in the table, 13 points adrift of the top six, after yesterday's 2-1 defeat by Wolves at Carrow Road.

Goals from Denes Rosa and Mark Kennedy put the visitors in charge before striker Robert Earnshaw's eighth goal in 15 appearances for the Canaries reduced the deficit.

Next season, relegated Birmingham, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland - with whom City have enjoyed their share of promotion battles in recent seasons - will join the three unsuccessful play-off teams, plus such contenders as Wolves and revitalised Southampton in a potentially wide open race for honours.


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But 35-year-old Fleming thinks City are capable of being part of that shake-up in his testimonial season.

He said: “We lost the game today and it's very disappointing. The result is the be all and end all. But there were some encouraging signs. I thought, football wise, it was a good performance and we passed it around quite well, which gives us hope for next season.

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“At the end of the season, it's human nature that you think of games you've lost and points you've dropped, where you should have done this or that. It's the time of year to sit down and see what we could have done better.

“There have been positive things, though. On our day we have been a match for some of the best teams in the league. We've beaten Sheffield United twice and drawn at Leeds. The negative thing is we haven't done it enough, not consistently.”

Fleming praised defensive colleague Gary Doherty for his player of the season award - he collected the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy before kick-off - and said it underlined the fact that new signings had to be given time to establish themselves in the side.

“His award is well deserved. He's been up there all season - and to be fair, so has Robert Green, I think,” said Fleming.

“Gary has worked very hard with his fitness and has lost a lot of weight. It takes time for new players to settle in sometimes, the classic example being Iwan Roberts.”

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