Friday, February 22, 2013
Chris Hughton yesterday urged his Norwich City players to finish the job and seal another season of Premier League football.
The Canaries host Everton at Carrow Road tomorrow six points clear of the current bottom three and Hughton insists that is a solid platform to launch one final push for safety.
“Yes, I would have taken this situation at the start of the season. It is such a big deal to make sure we are in the league,” he said. “With the quality of the teams in the division you know how tough it can be. It is so important to stay in this division for numerous reasons. I was also aware how different it is in that second season because although we have made changes to the team, the rest will certainly be aware of what this club achieved and what a wonderful first season they had. We now need to push on a little bit and our ambitions have to be trying to put more daylight between ourselves and the bottom group and to make it a bigger gap than it is now.
“I think it goes without saying most people look at that 40 point mark, and that is achievable, and bits like that perhaps come into your mind, but the important thing is we start getting a few wins and a few three pointers.”
Hughton admits City have endured a bumpy ride at times during his first season at the helm, with City bidding to clinch their first Premier League win since mid-December against David Moyes’ side.
“If I had a choice whether I would prefer the season to have been more consistent then yes I would. That is the league,” he said. “I hope once we get that first win after this period of time it gives us the confidence to go and push on again. What we have to make sure we do is that we are in every game we play. Although the season has been up and down regarding the phases of form we have been through we have only had the three real bad ones and a disappointing result at Chelsea away, but I didn’t think the performance (at Chelsea) was that bad. We played them when they were at their peak offensively and were perhaps beating everybody at that stage. You just hope that the first win spirals us onto better things.”
Hughton revealed at Colney yesterday that he had fresh injury doubts ahead of the Toffees’ visit over midfield duo Alex Tettey and Andrew Surman.
“Apart from John Ruddy we don’t have too many injuries. We just have a couple we are assessing this week,” he said.
“Tettey has not been able to train for the last couple of days. He took a little knock in training but it is not something we are concerned about. With Surman it is his knee and one of those ones he felt in training this week. He could have trained (on Thursday) because it had settled down. We have rested it and he might be fine to train on Friday.”
Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) and captain Grant Holt (back) have both been passed fit after missing City’s goalless draw against Fulham prior to their trip to Abu Dhabi. Holt was ruled out on the morning of the Cottagers’ game - which led one reporter yesterday to question Hughton over a rumoured spat with his skipper.
“Absolutely not true and I am very, very surprised to hear that,” said the City boss. “He has been an integral part of what we have done - not only this season but over the last three seasons. He has got a great record. That is the reason why he is the club captain so any suggestions of that nature are way off the mark and I am not quite sure where they came from.
“He is available this weekend and it wasn’t going to be a long term injury. It was just a case of getting up that morning and feeling the back problem. It is something that happened so quickly. We tried to release it and perhaps if the game was the next day or two days time he would have been available for us.”