Dean Smith urges Norwich players to fight for Premier League survival
The Canaries sit eight points from safety
Norwich head coach Dean Smith has challenged his players to leave everything on the pitch as they resume their fast-fading bid for Premier League survival.
The Canaries went into the international break on the end of an agonising stoppage-time defeat to rivals Leeds at Elland Road, where they had equalised in the closing moments.
It was a sixth straight league defeat for Smith’s men, who sit eight points from safety having played two more games than Everton and with a far worse goal difference.
While Smith is not about to throw in the towel ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton, who are also on a losing run, he accepts it is almost shaping up to a Mission: Impossible for Norwich to extend their stay in the top flight past just one season.
“We have not really talked about the last-chance saloon, because they know that,” the Norwich boss, who took on the Carrow Road job in November shortly after leaving Aston Villa.
“I want to see some fight from them, to see them driving each other, pushing themselves and each other to really show to us and supporters how much they care about winning football games for Norwich.
“We need to go into these games now and get results, that is the end of it really.
“The players know what is at stake, they know the performance levels that are required – individually and collectively, we have got to be better.
“We have been creating chances, it is the conversion rate that needs to improve.
“If we convert the chances that we are getting, then we can be on the right side of results.”
Smith added at a press conference: “Normally (over the international break) they will probably see their friends resting themselves up in Dubai, but I have said no.
“They have had to earn their days off and they have. They have worked hard and we will go into the Brighton game now and we want to try to put things right.”
Norwich look set for another swift return to the Sky Bet Championship, having once again failed to build on what was an impressive title campaign in the second-tier under German coach Daniel Farke.
Smith, though, rejected suggestions the self-funded Norfolk club have lacked the required ambition.
“I don’t think any model is going to enable you to win games in the Premier League (on its own), because it is such a tough league,” said the Norwich head coach.
“The model at the football club is the model and you have to work with that to the best of your ability.
“Is that model capable of achieving Premier League survival? Definitely. I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t believe that.
“We have seen already that this model can go and win the Championship at a canter, it has done that twice.
“The club spent money in the summer to try and change it, results wise we haven’t at the moment in terms of our position.
“But we have got nine games left to suggest we could try to do something and it would be an unbelievable comeback if we actually did it.”
Striker Josh Sargent is a doubt for Saturday’s trip to the Amex Stadium after rolling his ankle in training.
Turkey defender Ozan Kabak, on a season loan from Schalke, suffered a potentially long-term hamstring injury while on international duty and is currently being assessed at his parent club in Germany.
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