Fozzy: Competition for places never fiercer
David Cuffley Skipper Mark Fotheringham reckons the arrival of four new faces in the Norwich City dressing room means nobody's place is safe - even in a team that has gone 11 Championship games unbeaten.
Skipper Mark Fotheringham reckons the arrival of four new faces in the Norwich City dressing room means nobody's place is safe - even in a team that has gone 11 Championship games unbeaten.
A 1-0 home victory over Preston North End, courtesy of Darel Russell's stunning stoppage-time winner, took the Canaries into 13th place in the table, eight points clear of the bottom three, and now just seven points adrift of the top six.
But with four new loan signings arriving on the last day of the January transfer window, and two of them - defender Matthew Bates and winger James Henry - making their debuts in the second half of Saturday's game, Fotheringham said every single player had to be on his toes.
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He said: “The lads have been made really welcome and you can see that they've got good quality and it creates competition for places.
“Nobody in this team is guaranteed a starting place. We all know that and we've got to play well otherwise we'll not be in the team.”
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Manager Glenn Roeder has stressed his determination to play his new quartet in sooner rather than later - and suggested both defender Alex Pearce and midfielder Kieran Gibbs could be involved for Saturday's trip to Cardiff - but the welcome mat has been rolled out by players whose own first team places may be under threat as a result.
“They're settling in fine. To be honest with you, it's a really good dressing room down there at Colney and it always has been,” said Fotheringham.
City's excellent run, which has brought 29 points from 14 games since the 3-0 defeat at Plymouth in November, has brought the word “play-offs” back into fans' conversation, but no one at Carrow Road is getting carried away with such a stirring revival.
Said Fotheringham: “We're just taking each game as it comes because we know the rewards will be there at the end of the season. We are where we should be because we were disappointing from the start of the season, but we've picked it up now. The thing is now we've got to maintain it. We know that our standards are set. We've just got to keep it going.
“I don't know a lot about the points but we're just looking to go out there every week and win the games.”
The captain paid tribute to fellow midfielder Russell, who scored for the third time in seven league games to give City the extra two points when a goalless draw looked on the cards.
“It was such a fantastic strike from Darel. He's been working so hard at his shooting and it's just great to see it go in there at the end because it was a pretty dogged game,” said Fotheringham.
“The coaches keep saying to both of us 'If you take the shot, then it'll go in'. It was like mine against Barnsley. If you shoot, you've got every chance. It was more than deserving of winning the game, a strike like that.
“The game wasn't a great spectacle for the people out there watching it but after the break I think it got a little bit more exciting.”