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Chris Hughton is braced for a busy start to the Premier League season both on and off the pitch with the final weeks of the transfer window providing a backdrop to early league games against Fulham and QPR. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images
by Paddy Davitt
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Chris Hughton knows the men he wants to get Norwich City off to a positive Premier League start against Fulham this weekend.
The Canaries’ boss is not expecting too many selection dilemmas ahead of the Craven Cottage countdown after watching his squad wrap up their pre-season preparations against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Steven Whittaker, David Fox and Jacob Butterfield have already been ruled out after injury severely limited their chances to stake a pre-season claim for the Premier League curtain-raiser.
Hughton also has concerns over Elliott Ward and Wes Hoolahan, but the Norwich manager believes the bulk of his squad have had plenty of opportunity to impress.
“You would like to think everybody is in contention but, yes, I have got a fair idea of my 11 for Fulham. I’m close to it,” he said.
“We would like to think we have done enough things right over this pre-season, but of course the real judge of that will be this week and the week after and so on.”
Hughton is braced for a busy start to the Premier League season both on and off the pitch with the final weeks of the transfer window providing a backdrop to early league games against Fulham and QPR.
“We’re working very hard on that front,” he said. “It does get tougher if you want to bring in players who will be competitive for us, but the work is going on behind-the-scenes. The priority is to make the squad and the team as strong as we can.
“The mindset is still that I would like to strengthen the squad because I really feel you have to evolve and improve the squad and ensure you have that competition within the group.
“It is a good group. I think when you take this job you are very conscious that you are not Manchester United and you are not Chelsea and you are not expected to finish in the top five and so you are not going to be bringing in them type of players, but in our way we still have to try and improve.”
The City boss has recruited four new faces this summer – headlined by the arrival of former Leeds captain Robert Snodgrass.
Hughton again opted to deploy Snodgrass in a support role off Grant Holt against the Germans in an experiment that brought mixed results.
“I thought there were some good moments and not so good moments,” he said. “At times when we got the ball to him he can show that type of quality and if he can get near goal then you know he is going to have some opportunities to strike.
“You have to get to the ball to him and Borussia worked very hard, which made it difficult for us. They had a good balance of working the ball and keeping it but also stopping us playing a little bit. There was good value in having another look at it, because he can certainly play can Robert and it is also a very good option for us to have.”
Chris Hughton admitted Norwich’s soft centre again contributed to their downfall as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 5-1 Premier League win on Wednesday night at Anfield.