City midfielder Darel Russell has urged his team-mates to “stay focused”, as the Canaries look to edge closer to promotion with a win over MK Dons tomorrow.
Paul Lambert’s men can mathematically wrap things up on Tuesday night at Leyton Orient and three points tomorrow will go a huge way to clinching an immediate return to the Championship.
And Russell – who is in his second spell at Carrow Road – has said that it’s all about getting over that finishing line now that the prize is in full view.
“We have to stay as focused as possible to get us over that finishing line – once we are over that we can look at the situation a bit differently,” he said this morning, speaking to the media at Colney.
“Since we have got into the current position we haven’t looked behind us, our aim has been to get over the finishing line.
“The guys below us seem to be picking up a bit of form now, coming to the end of the season. It is important that we keep winning and picking up points and just keep doing what we are doing until the end of the season.
“We will be aiming to win the game Saturday and progress as the season continues.”
Tomorrow’s Carrow Road encounter will see Russell come face to face with a hero from his younger years in the shape of Paul Ince. And the Canary midfield man is expecting the ‘Guv’nor’ to put out a competitive team against the table-toppers, despite their play-off hopes dying in recent weeks.
“They are a decent team,” added ‘Rusty’. “Paul Ince was one of my boyhood heroes and I managed to play against him when he was at Wolves a few years ago.
“It was a good battle and he played the game in the right manner. I got his shirt at the end as well, which was special, and it’s in a frame with a picture of us both. He is a good guy.
“He has a good way of going about playing football and we expect them to play the game in the right manner. It will be another challenge for us this weekend.”
Even the most pessimistic City supporter would have to admit that it will take a minor miracle for Norwich not to be promoted now, with a huge 10-point gap to third place.
With a nine-point buffer to Swindon in second, you’d have to say that the league title is as good as theirs as well and while Russell is still cautious, he admitted that getting a League One winners’ medal is obviously the aim.
“That is what we are aiming for but there is a little way to go. People think we have come a long way, which we have done, but the tough games will be the next few – the ones that get us over the line. They will be tough games and we have to make sure we get ourselves there in the right manner.
“I think everyone in the dressing room, from the older players to the younger ones, would like to be able to say we won the league. But it’s just important that we keep focused and get over that finishing line, the rest will follow.”
With that hectic Easter schedule only just negotiated, including playing for nearly the whole match with 10 men at Tranmere, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few tired legs in the Canary ranks.
But Russell was quick to play tribute to Lambert and Co and the way they have handled the situation. The league leaders will be ready to rock once again come 3pm tomorrow.
“I think at this stage of the season there always are [some tired legs] but I think the management and coaching staff have dealt with it well. We have had a bit more rest this week, what with a busy schedule last weekend playing with 10 men and having a game on Monday. We feel refreshed going into this Saturday’s game.”
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