sport

Ruddy issues rallying cry

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy has challenged his team-mates to prove they are worthy of being Premier League players again next season when they take on title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday.

The Canaries' 1-0 defeat at Fulham last weekend plunged them deeper into a relegation battle, leaving them two points above the relegation zone with four games remaining.

They have the toughest run-in of all the sides battling against the drop with games at Manchester United and Chelsea to come before a final-day home game against Chelsea.

First up, though, is league-leaders Liverpool and Ruddy believes it is the ideal test for the Norwich players to prove they deserve to be in the top-flight.

"We are scrapping for our lives and we all want to be Premier League footballers and at the end of the day, that is what it boils down to, how much do you want to be a Premier League footballer?" Ruddy told Norwich City TV.

"How much do you want to play next year in games against Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal?

"Because if you don't put in the performances in these last four games, it is not going to happen."

Ruddy is drawing inspiration from Sunday's opponents, who produced a stirring display to beat title-rivals Manchester City last weekend, sparking an impassioned post-match, on-pitch team-talk from captain Steven Gerrard, who urged his team to "go again" at Carrow Road.

"What it says to me is not just how driven and how focused, not just how much Steven Gerrard is, but how he wants the rest of his team to be that same way," said Ruddy.

"And when you are fighting for a Premier League title it is evident that confidence and focus is there. But we have got as much to lose, if not more, than they have."

The England keeper is also hoping the Norwich fans will help the team on Sunday.

Ugly scenes marred the end of City's last home game, which they lost 1-0 to West Brom and prompted the sacking of former boss Chris Hughton.

Hundreds of clapper boards - which had been put on seats to help improve the Carrow Road atmosphere - were thrown onto the field, with one hitting Hughton, while Ruddy himself confronted one supporter behind the goal.

However, Ruddy believes City can benefit if they can get the fans behind them.

"In 2014 we have only conceded two goals at home and one of those was a penalty, so if you can't be buoyed by the performances that we have had recently at home, then you won't get up for any," he added.

"Certainly the crowd play a massive part and they have been with us all season through the thick and thin.

"They turned out in their droves on Saturday at Fulham and to replicate that on Sunday will see us through I hope."

You can watch Norwich host Liverpool on Sky Sports 1HD on Sunday from 11.30pm.