Norwich V Tottenham at Carrow Road : Match Preview
27 December 2011 12:51
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Martin relishing Bale battle
New dad Russell Martin is not about to lose any sleep at the prospect of shackling "on fire" Tottenham wing-back Gareth Bale at Carrow Road.
Scotland international Martin, 25, has produced a string of consistent displays in the Norwich defence - including in the 4-2 win over Newcastle earlier this month when his partner Jasmine had gone into labour ahead of the birth of their first child, Reno.
With Kyle Naughton, on loan from Spurs, set to serve a one-match ban, the likelihood is Martin will be asked to move out to the right side of defence.
The former Wycombe defender, capped against Wales at the end of last season, is ready for whatever challenge high-flying Spurs conjure up.
"If I get put out there at right-back for one game, it is no problem as I have played there for a lot of my career - but it is going to be hard for anyone to stop Bale, because he is on fire, just like the whole Spurs team," Martin told Canaries Player.
"You can't just concentrate on one person, because they have got players all over the pitch who can change games in an instant.
"We know how tough it is going to be, but we have worked hard to get here and we have not been overawed so far, I am sure that will continue."
Martin added: "Spurs are flying and have overtaken Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, they look like they will be challenging for the title this season, so it does not get any easier.
"Hopefully our fans will enjoy another top team coming down and we can give them a good game."
Martin joined up with his former Wycombe boss Paul Lambert again at Norwich in November 2009, and became an integral part of the squad which won successive promotions up to the top flight.
The Canaries have acquitted themselves well on their return to the top flight, and are the highest-placed of all three promoted clubs.
Martin admits it has been a "magic" couple of seasons at Carrow Road, but knows there is plenty of hard work ahead over the next five months if Norwich are to retain their status among the elite sides of English football.
"You can see how far we have come as players, as a team and as a club," Martin said.
"It has been a magic two years - to see us ninth in the Premier League at Christmas, no-one would have expected it."
Norwich have yet to keep a clean sheet in any of their 17 Barclays Premier League games, and it is understood defensive reinforcements are on Paul Lambert's wanted list.
"I have told the club the players I would like to try and get in," Lambert told BBC Radio Norfolk.
"We have to box clever with what we are trying to do. It is up to the club to try and sort something out."
Tottenham can forget about finishing in the top four unless they perform well over the festive period, Emmanuel Adebayor has warned.
Spurs play at Norwich before heading to Swansea on New Year's Day and then play West Brom on January 3 at White Hart Lane.
Despite failing to overcome Chelsea last week, Spurs are brimming with confidence having lost just once in their last 14 matches to move up to third in the Barclays Premier League.
But with Tottenham just three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, Adebayor knows failure to deliver against three teams they are expected to beat over the coming week could cost the club dearly.
"We have to do whatever it takes to win those games if we are going to finish in the top four. Otherwise, forget about it," the striker said.
Spurs' season started off poorly as they lost heavily to both Manchester sides before recovering to go on an 11-match unbeaten run that propelled them to third in the table.
The Togo striker has proved a controversial figure at times during his eventful career, but he insists it is important to remain calm when decisions go against him.
"At the moment everything is going against me from the point of view of referees, but that's football to be honest," the 27-year-old said.
"I just have to keep laughing and enjoying myself. We are all human beings. We can't start jumping on referees. He got it wrong against Chelsea, but that's part of football."
Forward Rafael van der Vaart looks set to be in contention after his hamstring injury proved less serious than first feared.
The 28-year-old Holland international was substituted at half-time of Thursday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea due to the problem, but a subsequent scan showed no tear.