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Norwich City boss Chris Hughton and Leroy Fer have both sought to clarify comments attributed to the Dutch midfielder claiming he had struggled to adapt to the Premier League. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, December 30, 2013
Chris Hughton is adamant Leroy Fer could not be happier at Norwich City after dismissing reports in Holland he had struggled to adapt to the Premier League.
Hughton rejected suggestions originating from a Dutch newspaper interview translated into English that claimed Fer had labelled his first few months as ‘tough’ and even drew parallels with depression after a summer move from FC Twente. Fer saw a proposed transfer to Everton fall through in January 2013 and endured a heart-breaking European Under-21 Championships semi-final exit for his country during the summer, and Hughton insisted the powerful midfielder was reflecting on the ups and downs of his whole year. Fer has been a revelation for the Canaries since a close season switch to the Premier League, scoring four goals in 21 appearances and forcing his way into Holland’s World Cup plans.
“I have had the opportunity to speak to Leroy and he says he never used the word depression in that article,” said Hughton, at Colney on Monday afternoon. “He was talking more in general terms about his 2013 and not solely the period of time he has had with us.
“He had a difficult period at the start of the year when he had some injuries but it has got better and better for him. Any references to settling in is just the normal process for any new player coming to a different club or a different country.
“You have to get used to a certain way of playing of course but if you look at his performances or anyone has been around him and they will tell you he has settled in well. He is a good personality, a very bubbly personality and he has settled in well. He is extremely happy here.”
Fer himself took to his official Twitter account to insist the article was ‘lost in translation’ and the 23-year-old is again likely to be a key figure in the New Year’s Day trip to Crystal Palace, with fellow central midfielder Jonny Howson still a major doubt with a back problem. Striker Gary Hooper is expected to train on Tuesday after being withdrawn as a precaution after complaining of tightness in his leg during the interval of the weekend’s 1-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester United.
“At the moment Gary is okay,” said Hughton. “He came in on the Sunday and he was fine. We didn’t train on Monday morning. We had a recovery session and we expect him to train on Tuesday. Jonny is still a doubt, as he has been the last couple of games. We will give him every opportunity but he would be a doubt.
“Thankfully we are looking at Alex Tettey being back in a couple of weeks, which will be a big plus for us, and Anthony Pilkington possibly around the same time and they will be good additions to the squad.”
Hughton has taken plenty of positives from the defeat to the champions but admits City’s festive haul is a cause for concern after a draw at Sunderland and Boxing Day defeat to Fulham.
“It has been a disappointing Christmas,” he said. “Would I prefer to be higher in the table? Yes, I would. We know we are three points from being in a position we don’t want to be in and the same applies to the top 10. We need points to make life a little bit more comfortable.
“We managed to finish in a good position last season after we had a difficult Christmas. We lost all four games this time last year so that is proof this period doesn’t define the season but we would like to have picked up more points.
“If you look at the United game that shows this league. United perhaps didn’t play as well as us and won the game. I’d rather not have played so well and won the game. That’s football.
“They had a bit of fortune with the goal, we were guilty of not putting away chances and not being clinical enough once we had the opportunities and that was the difference between the teams.”