We’ve got to be strong – Darel

DAVID CUFFLEY Darel Russell is no stranger to times of crisis with Norwich City - but reckons their current plight is the worst he has known.


Darel Russell is no stranger to times of crisis with Norwich City - but reckons their current plight is the worst he has known.

The midfielder, in his second spell with the club since his £600,000 summer return from Stoke, celebrates his 27th birthday today, but the mood may be rather subdued after Saturday's 3-1 home defeat by Bristol City left the managerless Canaries second from bottom of the Coca-Cola Championship following a run of seven defeats in nine matches.

Russell experienced life near the foot of the table as a youngster in City teams managed by Bruce Rioch and Bryan Hamilton, but admitted their latest predicament was even harder to take.

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He said: “When it rains, it pours. It's devastating, to be honest. I've never been in this position before. I've just looked and it's been more than a month since our last win. I'm just gutted at the minute. Nothing's going for us.

“I think when it happened last time we never had as tough a period for as long as this, in terms of not scoring goals as well.

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“At that point I was a younger player in a more experienced team. There were a lot of older players who had played at this level for a long time. Now I'm probably one of the more experienced players at this level, I can see how it perhaps affects people who haven't got that experience. It's down to strength of character, really. We've got to be big people now and stand up to things and really push ourselves.”

The Canaries, 1-0 down to the Robins after Michael McIndoe's 47th-minute opener, looked set to snatch a point when Darren Huckerby ended their 636-minute goal drought with an equaliser nine minutes from time. But substitutes Scott Murray and Lee Trundle had other ideas, wrapping up a 3-1 win to take the West Country club to second place.

Said Russell: “We've been lacking chances in the last few weeks but today we've had a good seven, eight chances and nothing's fallen for us.

“I think the game would have been wrapped up very early if we'd got an early goal.

“It breeds confidence in the crowd and ourselves. I think we'd relax and play a little bit more.

“We finished the first half pretty decently but in the first five minutes of the second, we conceded a goal and you could almost feel the silence from the crowd. It's eerie.

“You can feel the confidence that we might have built in that first half kind of sucked out of everyone.

“It took us 15, 20 minutes to try to get ourselves over that goal and get back into the game, which we did. Once again we were hit with a freak goal and it's gone wrong again.“It's unbelievable. You think at least you're going to grind a draw out of this game.”

City face daunting away trips to Burnley tomorrow night and West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, with caretaker boss Jim Duffy certain to be in charge for at least the first of them, but Russell said uncertainty over the new manager was not a factor in their defeat.

He said: “For me it doesn't make a difference because I've been in this situation a few times. Maybe for other players it may make a difference, I can't speak for them. But for me, it doesn't. Jim's been out there this week and he's done a fantastic job preparing us right for the game. Everyone understood what he had to do. We put it into practice in the first half but we didn't score. Then we conceded and that caused us a massive problem.”

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