March 11 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 23, 2013
The Christmas schedule is nothing new to Chris Hughton – but the Norwich City manager does believe the Premier League is asking clubs to play one game too many over the festive period.
While the merits or otherwise of a winter break continue to be argued, the more pressing concern to most top-flight bosses will be the prospect of playing five games in the space of about 15 days – a run that started with last weekend’s fixtures.
Having drawn at Sunderland last Saturday, City host Fulham and Manchester United on Boxing Day and the following Saturday respectively, before a New Year’s Day trip to Crystal Palace four days later and a home FA Cup third round tie the next weekend – against Fulham.
“It’s certainly a schedule I’m used to, it’s one the players are used to and their Christmas doesn’t change,” said Hughton. “It’s tradition but I think we are getting to the stage where we are able to pull one of the games out.
“I think the Boxing Day game is tradition and it’s something we are all very much used to. But of course, we are now going to go into a period of games where we’re going to play on Boxing Day, on Saturday, and then again on the Wednesday.
“So could we pull the Saturday game out? And that in effect gives us a game on Boxing Day I think everybody looks forward to, and then again on New Year’s Day.
“I think there is scope to pull one of the games out but I don’t see, at this particular moment, a winter break – although I know it’s something a lot of people have spoken about and are thinking about.”
Hughton has no fresh injury concerns following the goalless draw at the Premier League’s bottom side on Saturday, as they prepare to take on Fulham – Jonny Howson (back) and Russell Martin (ankle) will continue to be assessed over the Christmas period.
“It was a big blow for us and more so a big blow for Jonny,” added Hughton. “He’s been in really good form.
“He felt it during the week and was certainly too sore for Saturday. We’ll just have to see how that settles down over the next couple of days.
“We certainly haven’t ruled him out of any games. He’s a tough character. But we’ll have to assess it.
“Russell’s was more of a precaution. At a push he probably could have been involved at the weekend, but we knew with this series of games coming up that it’s important we made sure we didn’t take any risks. So he’ll be fine. He’ll train today (Monday) and will be available for this series of games.”