City winger Elliott Bennett was keeping his fingers firmly crossed that the latest injury blow for James Vaughan was nothing too untoward as the dust started to settle on Monday night’s 2-1 home win over Sunderland.
The sight of one-time Everton starlet Vaughan gingerly heading for the touchline with his left knee locked was the one downside to an otherwise excellent evening for the Norfolk side – back-to-back wins after that away success to Bolton putting them ninth in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday’s formidable trip to Manchester United.
But it is a sign of the deep-seated spirit within the Canary camp that Bennett could be found worrying about one of his own afterwards.
“Obviously it’s a bit too early to say what it is,” said the former Brighton star, instrumental in City’s opening goal on Monday night.
“And clearly no-one likes to see one of their colleagues leave the pitch with any injury, but hopefully he’s OK and he’s alright very soon.”
It was Bennett’s darting run and smart one-two with David Fox that set Leon Barnett up for the simplest of tap-ins.
His blossoming partnership with Kyle Naughton down the City right is proving one of the big successes of the autumn; both young men are quick, athletic and attacking in their footballing instincts.
With Marc Tierney and Anthony Pilkington offering similar intent on the left – witnessed by the way that the two combined for Steve Morison’s killer second strike – so Paul Lambert’s Canaries are starting to demonstrate width, balance and genuine Premiership menace.
How many feathers they will all be able to ruffle at Old Trafford this weekend may remain a moot point. But at home – and away – to the league’s lesser lights, Norwich continue to punch above their weight in the top flight. Lambert’s total summer spending was probably on a par with one Connor Wickham.
“This a massive result for us,” admitted Bennett afterwards. “It’s a hard-worked victory, but I thought for some of the football that we played today we thoroughly deserved the win.
“We’re glad to get the away win last week and it’s good to get the win for the home fans this week.”
The fact that they had had a six-point week made a big difference – irrespective of who the Canaries had next on their Premiership agenda, Bennett said.
“It makes a big difference whoever you have next,” he said. “You’ve got to try and get the results you need to stay in this league and, thankfully, we’ve managed to do that in the last two games.”
The Canaries were, you sensed, starting to find their feet in this division; 99 per cent of the Canary faithful would have bitten your hand off for ninth-place come the end of September.
“From the start the Gaffer has instilled a massive belief and confidence within the squad,” revealed Bennett, clearly another one of the thousands willing to place their trust in the Scot.
The spirit – the ‘togetherness’ – was evident in abundance; the contrast with an ill-assorted Sunderland side was marked. Big names they may have been, but there didn’t appear to be much by way of ‘All for one and one for all!’ knocking around in the Black Cats dressing room.
“Everyone’s pulling in the same direction – and the competition for places is really big. That’s keeping everyone on their toes plus the work ethic of all the players is absolutely magnificent.
“And we’re playing some good football with it which is really pleasing.”
Barnett’s opener being a case in point as Fox read Bennett’s intention to a ‘T’ and duly delivered the return ball to match – smart, switched-on football that was all too much for the Browns and the Brambles.
“That’s the quality of David Fox,” said Bennett. “He’s a great passer of the ball and I though him and Bradley Johnson in the middle there were magnificent.
“And that’s the thing – we’ve got people like Andrew Crofts who is not even in the team. And that just goes to show the quality of the players that we’ve got here and the quality of the competition for places that is keeping us on our toes.”
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