TRANSFER deadline day in England came and went with a major disappointment for Russell Martin.
It wasn’t that the Norwich City captain was seeking a move from Carrow Road, where he has just enjoyed an encouraging start to life back in the English Premier League. His sense of anti-climax when the English transfer window shut at 6pm on Tuesday was prompted by not being joined at Norwich by his Scotland international team-mate Steven Naismith.
The East Anglian club had a bid of £8 million turned down by Everton for Naismith, who has been unable to secure a place in Roberto Martinez’s starting line-up in the current campaign.
“I’m disappointed we couldn’t get him in the end because he’d have been a fantastic signing for us,” said Martin. “Steven Whittaker and I were asked recently what we thought about him and we both sang his praises. He would have been an immense signing for us but it’s not happened and I’m sure he’ll do a great job when he goes back to Everton after this.
“I’d rather play with Naisy than against him, that’s for sure. I don’t know the ins and outs of what happened on Tuesday, you’d have to ask the clubs. But when business is left that late on deadline day, it is tough to get it done. We were training twice on Tuesday with Scotland and if it was to be done after the second session, it would have been tough for Naisy to get away in time.
“But Everton wanted to keep him in the end anyway and there’s no surprise there. I’m sure our club will be disappointed. I know as players we were disappointed and I’m sure the manager will feel the same.
“Naisy had asked Steven and myself about Norwich, the training ground and stuff like that, when he heard the bid had come in, but that was just in case Everton accepted the bid. You have to have an idea of what you’re going to.
“Now we’ll see what happens in January. Six months is a long time in football and a lot can happen. We might have other targets but if he eventually comes, it will be brilliant. But Naisy might have other options or he could set the world alight with Everton again, getting back in the team and scoring goals. You never know.
“I do know he’s been brilliant for us with Scotland. He can play in a few roles as well and is so important to the way we play. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him. He works tirelessly and is 100 per cent in everything he does. He’s fantastic in the air for such a small guy and is so wholehearted.”
Norwich City’s return to the top flight of English football under Alex Neil’s management was timely for Martin as he seeks to underline his status as a mainstay of Gordon Strachan’s squad in what could be a momentous season for Scotland.
“I took a step backwards last year when we were relegated, which was frustrating,” he said. “Last season was all about getting back to where we felt we belonged and deserved to be. We worked extremely hard to make that happen and now it’s all about staying in the Premier League. For me, it’s about qualifying for a major tournament with Scotland as well. That wouldn’t just be a big step for me, it would be massive.
“It has been a solid start with Norwich, apart from losing 3-0 at Southampton on Sunday. Before that, we had been playing really well. We maybe should have more points than we have, but four from the first four games back in the Premier League isn’t bad. If we can beat Bournemouth when we get back from international duty and make it seven from five, then it’s a really good start.”
Martin may be partnered in central defence tomorrow evening by a Championship player, with both Brighton captain Gordon Greer and fit-again Blackburn Rovers stopper Grant Hanley in contention to join him in the back four.
“I don’t have any preference who is beside me,” he added. “Grant and I had a good run of games in the team before he was injured and we did really well but, in the last year, it has chopped and changed.
“Gordon has come in and done well when he has played, so it’s fine. Charlie Mulgrew and I played together for the first time against Ireland in Dublin last time out, and we really enjoyed it. We are similar defenders in that we like to keep a high line, press people and get on the ball.
“I want to play in every game and that goes for all the boys. We just want to be in the team. Anyone who comes in can slot in and that comes from the clarity the manager gives us. We know what he expects from players in certain roles and in training we have different players playing different roles, so if someone comes in they know what to expect and what they have to do.”