Russell Martin is the one reassuring constant in summer of transition

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Mark Runnacles/Getty ImagesRussell Martin: The natural inheritor of Grant Holt's captain's armband.

News of Russell Martin's contract extension to keep him at Norwich City until 2016 will not set the pulses racing. But it may prove Chris Hughton's most astute piece of summer business.

In a period of flux, Martin is the solid foundation stone and a key conduit bridging the old and new era dawning across Carrow Road.

The departure of his roommate, Grant Holt, to Wigan earlier this week edges the Scottish international another place up the pecking order. Only Wes Hoolahan has given longer service to the cause in these parts. Martin was a key member of the squad who achieved back-to-back promotions from the Football League and then retained Premier League status to buck the trend in two consecutive attempts. Martin's calm demeanour on the pitch and his articulate nature off it mark him out as the natural inheritor of Holt's captain's armband.

- Holt swaps Norwich for Wigan

The 27-year-old's club form has also eased him onto the international stage, with his most recent outing coming in an influential shift that helped the Scots' shock Croatia 1-0 in a World Cup qualifying win. Martin's display in Zagreb potentially heralds a period of permanence in Gordon Strachan's plans.

The defender's reliability for club and country may not grab the headlines or the spotlight, but his enduring presence in the midst of Norwich's ambitious close season recruitment drive can not be underestimated.

Martin's intimate knowledge of his club will help smooth the transition for exciting fresh talent such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nathan Redmond. City continue to be linked with foreign imports in the likes of Leroy Fer, Toby Alderweireld and Ola Toivonen. The Canaries' are targeting pedigree players for the next phase of their development, but attracting such quality injects heightened levels of uncertainty into the process. These young men arrive with huge expectations and a challenge to assimilate not only into a new changing room but a totally different league. Men like Martin and Sebastien Bassong or John Ruddy will play vital parts in that integration.

Martin has seen the darker side of football. He was rejected by his hometown club Brighton in his youth and forced to plot a route back through non league football and the lower reaches of the professional game. The smart money would suggest he is likely to lead the Canaries out when they head to the Amex Stadium for a friendly on July 30 that will hold extra significance for this man from the south coast.

Martin would have reason to reflect on a circuitous route which has seemingly come full circle. The versatile defender is now a staple for club and country. Norwich as a club is heading into unchartered waters as Hughton's squad overhaul breaks new ground, but with Martin fully committed to the cause City's support have renewed cause for optimism in an already intoxicating summer of renewal.

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