June 20 2013 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, EDP Sports Writer
Friday, August 3, 2012
Chris Hughton expects no let-up from Norwich City in tonight’s latest pre-season friendly at League One MK Dons (7.45pm).
The Canaries have been tested by two of the biggest names in European football so far this summer, but more than held their own against Celtic in Glasgow and then Dutch champions Ajax at Carrow Road.
A double header on the road, starting at Stadiummk and followed by next week’s trip to Championship Hull may not carry the same cache –but Hughton knows both games are invaluable staging posts towards the Premier League kick-off.
“They are a good team and the same applies when we go to Hull next week,” he said. “We’ve just come off the back of playing Ajax but I can assure you in pre-season you don’t get easy games. Nor do I want any; that is why we have lined up this level of opposition. We have two tough away games coming up and we have to use them the best way we can.
“You want different tests during pre-season and playing the likes of Ajax is a test whenever you face them because you are up against different qualities. You can try and play an open game but if we had done I think most people realise that sort of game would have brought a different result. We had to focus on other characteristics. We are going to play both here at Carrow Road and away from home against better teams in the Premier League – that is how it is – better teams on paper with better players than us. What you have got to be able to do is be resilient against those type of teams and look for the opportunities when they arrive.”
Defender Steven Whittaker (ankle) has been ruled out for the rest of pre-season. Jacob Butterfield has yet to feature for the Canaries as he steps up his fitness bid from a long term knee injury. Fellow midfielder David Fox (knee) is back in light training but tonight’s trip is likely to come too soon in his recovery as Hughton aims to learn more about the personnel at his disposal.
“I think when you go into a new club you can be learning right the way through pre-season and even the start of the season,” he said. “Players’ form goes up and down, some players may not get the same amount of time to show what they can do. I would like to think by the end of pre-season I will be a little clearer in my own mind, which I will be, but you want players to change your mind and push for places.
“We brought the new lads in to give us competition all over the pitch and you hope as a manager that brings the best out of players. Come the start of the season I have to pick 11 players and I want that job to be a difficult one. In some ways, perhaps it would be better if it was an easier job because that means there are 11 who have forced themselves into my thinking and it almost becomes a natural choice.”
City midfielder Anthony Pilkington underlined his quality with a superb free kick in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Ajax. The 24-year-old senses the Canaries’ are building well towards the Premier League opener at Fulham later this month.
“It’s always good to score but we have to focus on the all-round performances,” he said. “You can’t really look into the sharpness because teams like Ajax are ahead of us by two or three weeks but you’ll see in the next few games, the sharpness will start coming back, and in training and when we start playing more games. I think at the moment we’re sitting nicely and we’ll be ready for the 18th.”
Angus Gunn has signed his first professional contract with Manchester City – but no one should doubt the strength of his Norwich City roots.