Swansea V Norwich at Liberty Stadium - Match Preview
Updated Friday, 10th February 2012
Britton taking nothing for granted
Swansea may head into the Barclays Premier League meeting with Norwich sitting in the top half of the table but midfielder Leon Britton has warned his team-mates they cannot afford to let their focus slip between now and the end of the season.
The Swans and the Canaries have confounded pre-season expectations that they would make a swift return to the Championship and both are currently on track for comfortable mid-table finishes as they enter this weekend 10th and ninth in the standings respectively.
Last weekend's 2-1 win at West Brom moved Brendan Rodgers' side 10 points clear of the drop zone and victory over Paul Lambert's visitors would further extend that margin, but Britton is adamant that the Welsh club cannot afford to take their foot of the gas until survival is mathematically assured.
The 29-year-old said: "Our main aim is to survive in the league. That was always the main priority. We are 10th but we need to take one games at a time. We can't afford to get too far ahead of ourselves.
"There was no points target at the start of the season and even now, the gaffer doesn't say anything.
"He just asks us to keep our standards up in training and to play as we did at West Brom last weekend.
"I don't think we can look any further than our performances, because if we perform to our level, we would hope to win a few of the remaining 14 games."
Britton admits he has been delighted to see Swansea and Norwich do so well this term, proving the strength of the Championship by sticking with the majority of the squads that secured promotion.
"All credit to both sides," he said. "We are in February and the game is a mid-table match. I don't think too may would have predicted that at the beginning of the season.
"Both clubs deserve credit.
They are hungry and though they have added some players, there have not been wholesale changes."
The meeting between the two sides at Carrow Road earlier this season was one of the few major disappointments Swansea have suffered, as a below-par display resulted in a 3-1 reverse.
But an excellent recent run of results, which included wins over Arsenal and West Brom and draws with Tottenham and Chelsea, has moved them up the table and helped Rodgers, who has agreed a new three-and-a-half year contract, win the January manager of the month award.
Rodgers has a near full-strength squad to pick from with new signing Curtis Obeng unlikely to be rushed into the squad following his recent arrival from Wrexham.
Elliott Ward is ready to end a six-month nightmare and ease a Norwich defensive crisis.
The central defender has missed out on Norwich's impressive run so far in the Premier League after damaging a knee on a pre-season tour in Germany.
But he could be in line to join the adventure at Swansea in the clash of the two promoted clubs who have established themselves in mid-table and won such plaudits this season.
Lambert lost both first-choice centre backs, Daniel Ayala and Zak Whitbread, to hamstring injuries in last week's win against Bolton.
Ayala will be out for around a month and Whitbread is doubtful for the match.
If Lambert has to turn to 27-year-old Ward, who has played just an hour in the reserves so far this season, he would have no fears after nursing him through his rehabilitation.
Lambert said: "Wardy's been great. He's had his ups and downs like everybody else when you have a long-term injury.
"You get the rehab to a certain point then you hit the brick wall and then you go over the wall and kick on again.
"He's more than happy now to get going. I've had chats with him to keep his spirits up. He's had his bad days but you pick them up and let them go again. He's all right. He's ready if I ask him to play.
"It has been prolonged and we couldn't get to the bottom of the injury. The knee kept flaring up every time he trained. Thankfully that seems to have been dismissed now so he's ready to go.
"One thing about Wardy he won't let us down. I wouldn't have any fears about putting him in."
Lambert's side lie in ninth, two points and a place ahead of Swansea with both clubs closing in on survival.
Lambert said: "We have to try and stay in the league. The lads have been brilliant. Swansea had a head start on us because (two years ago) they were already in the championship. We were in League One, got promotion and then had to go again.
"Every game is really, really tough. We'll go and give it a right go."