City defender Gary Doherty has admitted that he’s not worrying about a new Canary contract, as the league leaders aim to wrap up promotion in the coming weeks.
The centre-back – who was outstanding in the crucial 1-0 win over title rivals Leeds at the weekend – is out of contract in the summer but you get the impression that most things are on hold for the minute up at Colney.
With the table-toppers 11 points clear, thoughts can surely start to turn to the future in a matter of weeks. But for the time being, it’s all about getting the job done and clinching a return to the Championship sooner rather than later.
“I think you are always playing for a new deal as a footballer but that is the last thing on my mind,” said Doherty, speaking to reporters after the game.
“We’re just desperate to get promotion, we need to get back in the Championship as soon as possible and to beat the team in second place was a great result for us. With a big Easter coming up, we’ve given ourselves a great chance of doing it.
“We need to keep consistent, win our games and thankfully it’s all about us now. We’ve got a good enough lead to concentrate on ourselves.”
The former Republic of Ireland international believes City got their tactics spot on against the Whites, despite it not being the most pleasing game on the eye.
Clear chances were at a premium and it was cagey at best. But Paul Lambert’s men came up with the goods when it mattered to put clear daylight between them and the Yorkshire giants.
“Obviously first versus second is a massive game and looking at it, we didn’t just play for a point. With the three strikers we still tried to get goals but we found it hard to get our game going at times.
“But we showed great determination to keep going until the end. We kept it tight and we’ve got a lot of goalscorers in the team and Chrissy [Martin] got one for us.”
With that huge gap to second, you’d have to say that winning the top prize, never mind promotion, is more than probable.
And while the ‘Ginger Pele’ – as he’s affectionately known on the terraces – said that automatic promotion is the main aim, he acknowledged that being champions had to be a target considering their strong position.
“We’re top of the league so we’ve got to go for the title. Promotion is the main aim – we need to get this club out of League One – but once you’re in a position where you’re top of the league, you need to aim for the title.
“It’s good to have things to aim for. When we were playing well and on a good run, we were looking at other teams, trying to catch them. Now we’re top we want to be champions.
“When you stay down for a couple of years, like we’ve seen with Leeds and Nottingham Forest a few years ago, it can be a really difficult league to get out of.
“Our aim in the summer was obviously to bounce back straight away – we had a disastrous start but now things are looking good for us.”
It has been a remarkable reversal of fortunes for both Doherty, after he was left out of the side upon Lambert’s arrival in Norfolk, and the club.
It’s worth remembering that when a late Leeds goal sealed a 2-1 win over City in October, they enjoyed an 11 point gap of their own. Now, the tables have been turned quite literally. Can the Canary defender believe it?
“No not really to be honest. When we lost at Elland Road there was still a lot of games to go but we knew we needed teams to have a blip. Obviously Charlton and Leeds have had that and we’ve just got to make sure that doesn’t happen to us.
“It’s been a good turnaround for me and a good turnaround for the club since the gaffer came in. He’s done a marvellous job to get us in the position we’re in now.
“I thought we outplayed them at Elland Road and they ended up getting the last-minute winner and here I thought they passed it around well. But we have kicked them when they are down.
“They’re going through a tough time at the minute but thankfully Chrissy has come up with a terrific goal and it’s a massive three points for us.”