Martin playing without fear

DAVID CUFFLEY Defender Jason Shackell summed up one of the key reasons for Academy product Chris Martin's impressive start to first team football with Norwich City when he said: “He's playing with no fear.


Defender Jason Shackell summed up one of the key reasons for Academy product Chris Martin's impressive start to first team football with Norwich City when he said: “He's playing with no fear.”

Shackell, who made his senior debut four years ago at the age of 19, is almost an old hand now compared to 18-year-old Martin, who rescued a point for the Canaries when he bagged his first league goal in an otherwise forgettable 1-1 draw against Coventry at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The Beccles youngster also scored the winner in the FA Cup replay at home to Blackpool a fortnight ago, and has so far lived up to his billing as one of the brightest prospects to come out of Colney in years.

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Shackell, who along with Martin was one of the few Norwich players to impress against the Sky Blues, said: “It was another great goal for us. Chris has been excellent since he came in.

“He's playing with no fear at the moment, he really is producing some good displays and hopefully that can continue for the benefit of the team.”

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Martin had not been overawed by his early step up to Championship football, said Shackell.

“He's handling it really well. He's a confident lad, he's showing that on the pitch and if he can keep doing that he'll do OK,” he said.

Shackell, who picked up the official man of the match award, and Gary Doherty had their hands full against a robust Coventry front pairing of Dele Adebola and Kevin Kyle, and he admitted: “It was a tough game. They're a big side, especially up front, with two big units.

“I'm happy we got a point. We weren't at our best today, but we showed good character coming from behind and at least we got a point out of it.”

The result, however, left the Canaries with just two wins in 12 Championship games and only three points clear of the bottom three, with away games against strugglers Luton tomorrow and Barnsley on Saturday.

“This is a big week for us now,” said Shackell. “We've got two very important games. We've got to go there, play how we know we can play and we've got to come out with some good results.”

Injuries deprived manager Peter Grant of defender Dion Dublin and striker Peter Thorne, as well as long-term absentees Robert Earnshaw, David Marshall and Luke Chadwick, while striker Chris Brown departed at half-time with hamstring and knee trouble.

But Shackell said: “We don't want to make too many excuses. We simply weren't good enough in the first half. We weren't working together as a team, we were working as individuals. We had a little talk about it at half-time and came out in the second half a lot better.

“If we can get a few more people back and if we a full squad, I'm sure we'll start making our way up the table.”

Grant paid tribute to Martin for having an old head on young shoulders.

He said: “I knew when the FA Youth Cup was out of the way he was straight into my squad, that's for sure.

“I just think he's got that arrogance and that knack where you want to score, get in there expecting to score, not hoping to score. He goes in there believing he's going to score and I think that's an

important thing as a striker.

“You get a lot of players who want to play outside the box and look for cut-backs, but that boy goes in where it hurts. If it comes back off the 'keeper he's round about him, if it drops in the six-yard box he's round about it. He just has that little bit of intelligence about him, and great arrogance for a young man. He's got a major chance, he's got to keep progressing.

“He's been terrific for us. Great credit to him, he's played with that old head on young shoulders. He's got a willingness to do well and willingness to listen.

“I think he's been schooled in the right manner. We've not taken that naturalness out of his game.

“He's got a good brain, he's got an understanding of the game and what's expected of him but he's knows there are still a million things he's got to learn.

“You see things in training that let him down badly but he's got that great streak. He's saying 'I'm going to score a goal'. That's a big, big thing to have.”

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