Top six must be our aim – Ruddy
Goalkeeper John Ruddy admits anything less than a top six finish in the Championship would be a disappointment for Norwich City after their promising start to the campaign.
With roughly a third of the season gone, the Canaries were in fifth place this morning – though that may well have changed by the time they kick off their televised fixture against Reading at the Madejski Stadium this evening (5.20pm).
While manager Paul Lambert and club officials have been keen to play down City’s early successes, the 24-year-old summer capture from Everton knows results in the first three months have raised expectations, and not just among excited supporters.
“If someone had offered you this position at the start of the season you would have bitten their hands off,” he said. “We know as a competitive group of players, and a competitive manager and coaching staff, we expect to be pushing now.
“We want to stay in and around where we are – anything less is going to be a disappointment because of the way we started. So we need to make sure our performance levels are as high as they have been and make sure we keep picking up points.”
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Two points went begging in the fourth minute of stoppage time at The Den on Tuesday night when Millwall teenager John Marquis cancelled out David Fox’s first goal for City.
“I think we would have taken a point before the game but the manner in which we conceded was sickening – practically the last kick of the game,” said Ruddy. “People are going to struggle going to Millwall. It’s an intimidating place and the fans get right on top of you. But we played well and we can’t be too disheartened.”
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Reading were just two points behind City going into today’s programme and pose another formidable test.
“They’re a good side, they’ve been to the Premier League, kept hold of a few players that were in that league and they had a good result on Tuesday against Cardiff,” said Ruddy. “They were 1-0 up and lost the lead but they will face us with confidence as well and we have to make sure we go there and match them all over the pitch.”
The presence of Sky TV cameras does not worry Ruddy, despite City’s run of six successive defeats on the satellite channel.
He said: “If you want to play in the big leagues you know you’re going to get games on TV, so it’s part and parcel of it. I think we look forward to it more than anything. You know it’s a good opportunity to showcase yourselves in front of loads of people watching.”
The 6ft 3in ’keeper believes he has made strides since the season began with the televised 3-2 home defeat by Watford.
“I’m settling in a lot more. The start of my career at Norwich wasn’t the best but I’d like to think I’ve overcome that,” he said.
“I just need a slice of luck. In the Burnley game, I made a save, it hit the floor, hit my arm and bounced in. That pretty much sums up how it’s going for me at the minute. At Cardiff I did well and made some saves but we still lost. I’m taking things out of every game but I hope it will all start coming together and we get back to winning ways.”
Ruddy is also hoping for an improvement in the weather after a wild week in training, making life for a goalkeeper especially tricky.
He said: “I don’t think the wind helps. The last couple of days it’s been horrendous round here. I’d prefer it if it wasn’t windy but you’ve got to deal with everything, the same as every other player on the pitch.
“You have to deal with the conditions and I hope it will calm down a bit and the rain stays off and it will be OK.”