National recognition for Chris Martin

Chris Martin is starting to receive national recognition for his exploits on the field - thanks to a "cocky" streak that has made him one of the country's leading marksmen.

Chris Martin is starting to receive national recognition for his exploits on the field - thanks to a "cocky" streak that has made him one of the country's leading marksmen.

The City striker has scored 19 times this season and is hot on the heels of leading scorer Grant Holt.

Half a dozen goals in January earned him a nomination for the League One Player of the Month award, and while he missed out on that one to Swindon striker Billy Paynter, he did capture the prestigious Coca-Cola League Young Player of the Month trophy, chosen from 260 under-21 players throughout the leagues.

It's a remarkable turnaround for Martin, who was sent out to Luton on loan last season and returned to an uncertain future at Carrow Road.

"I didn't think I was going to be first choice when I came back here, but you have to be confident," he said.

Martin's confidence has never been in question, although some perhaps mistook it for arrogance: his body language suggested there should have been more to come.

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Martin started the opening match of the season, but then found himself warming the bench, until manager Paul Lambert had shaken off City's cobwebs, determined the style and formation he wanted - and made Martin a part of it. The Beccles-born Martin has hardly looked back since, using that self-confidence to full effect.

"That is one of my traits," he said. "I've always been confident.

"Some people might say I'm a bit cocky at times, but as a footballer, to try and be successful, you have to have that, you have to have confidence in your own ability. I think it's an advantage, it's a good thing rather than a negative."

Lambert had taken his time with Martin for a reason.

"He had to get his work rate up, that was a big thing," he said. "He got back into the side and I told him, if he gets his work rate up, hopefully everything will fall into place for him. And he's been terrific.

"His career, if he keeps progressing, could be terrific. He's only 21, he's got years ahead of him in the game. He's got a long, long way to go before he'll be an established footballer but he's given himself the best opportunity to do it."

Having a long, long way to go is nothing new to Martin, who burst on to the scene when Peter Grant found himself short of goals in the early weeks of 2007 but then failed to establish himself in the first team. Glenn Roeder questioned his attitude - and that of team,-mate Michael Spillane - and sent them on loan to Luton, his embarrassing description of them as "Tweedledee and Tweedledum" following them every inch of the way.

It was probably one of the best decisions Roeder made over Martin.

"I played very little under Glenn Roeder," he said. "Whether it was his personal preference or whether he possibly didn't like me as a player and didn't think I was good enough. I think the best thing for me was to go out on loan at Luton and that did me the world of good, to play a full season, although it was in League Two and we were in a bit of a predicament.

"We all stuck together, we were all fighting for the cause, no one threw the towel in early. I played 51 games, going through the ups and downs of a whole season, putting your body through that trauma of playing every game week in, week out. That helped a lot because as a young player that is what you need, experience."

Martin has the confidence and the experience and the goals - and the awards are piling up as well.