Dean Smith confident Norwich have the 'quality' to avoid Premier League relegation

Smith will take charge of his first game on Saturday when Canaries welcome Southampton to Carrow Road

Dean Smith has said he is confident he can help Norwich City avoid relegation from the Premier League as he prepares to take charge of his first match at Carrow Road.

Norwich sit bottom of the league table, five points adrift of safety after 11 games, and on Saturday face an in-form Southampton side who have won three and drawn one of their past four matches.

However, Norwich won their first game of the season just before the international break with a 2-1 win at Brentford, although that was not enough to save Daniel Farke, who was sacked and replaced by Smith.

The 50-year-old Englishman had himself recently been dismissed by Aston Villa and arrived at Carrow Road with a record of never being relegated as a manager in stints at Walsall, Brentford and then Villa.

Despite Norwich facing an uphill struggle to preserve their top flight status, Smith believes the squad has enough quality to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.

"We believe the quality is there but the mentality also needs to be there," Smith told a news conference on Friday. "I looked at the squad, I spoke to Neil (Adams, assistant sporting director) and Stuart (Webber, sporting director) and I liked what I saw. Some people will say it's a risk but I see it as an opportunity.

"The first season after promotion is the hardest, survival has to be the aim. If you survive then you can build."

Smith said that midfielder Todd Cantwell appeared to be fit but that he would be assessed to see if he could play a part in Saturday's game, and stressed the importance of the home fans playing a bigger part in the team's bid for survival.

"We need them to get behind us. The only way we'll win football games is if we all pull together," he said.

Southampton go into the match on the back of two wins - the last of which was a 1-0 victory over Villa that sealed Smith's fate at Villa Park.

Updated: November 19th 2021, 12:09 PM