Chris Hughton - John Ruddy’s three month injury lay-off is a hammer blow for Norwich City

Chris Hughton admitted after tonight's battling 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton the loss of injured England international John Ruddy for up to three months was a hammer blow.

Hughton confirmed Ruddy had suffered a 'serious' thigh injury in the closing stages of the weekend draw at Everton which is likely to require surgery. The City boss may now draft in short term goalkeeping cover after Mark Bunn made an assured full Premier League debut for the club at St Mary's. City have highly-rated England youth duo Declan Rudd and Jed Steer on the books, but Hughton has not ruled out an experienced addition to cover Ruddy's untimely absence.

'Those are the decisions we have to make,' he said. 'Mark is an excellent goalkeeper but it is a tough decision because it is such a big job. That is something we have to decide over a short period of time. It is a blow for us and for the length of time he is going to be out he is a big player for us. The form he was in then, yes, it is a big blow, and that is not taking anything away from Mark, because he will be an excellent goalkeeper for us and that is the reason why we brought him in. I feel for John because he is in a very good period in his career at this moment with his international involvement with England but in Mark we have a very good replacement.

'I think we are looking at about three months out. We knew straight after the (Everton) game that it was not going to be a quick one but until you get the correct diagnosis and you let it settle down you are best not to pre-judge anything. We have to discuss about surgery as an option now and that will be determined over the next few days, but it is a significant tear.'

Hughton was delighted his side maintained their unbeaten run against an improving Saints' outfit.

'I think we were good value for the point,' he said. 'And we have been in our last two games on the road. In this division, points are hard to come by away from home. It was very similar in many respects to the Everton game at the weekend. I thought Southampton were better than us in the first half but I thought we got back into the game and scoring the goal when we did gave us a boost. The game opened up in that second half and we were certainly better after the break. It could have gone any way. We kept possession far better and it was a good point.

'These have got a lot of quality and they have brought in some big money players. The boy (Gaston) Ramirez is getting better with every game. We had to nullify them first but possibly in the early stages we could have been better in possession ourselves.'

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Hughton felt referee Mark Clattenburg missed a blatant handball by Rickie Lambert in the build up to Southampton's opener, but the City boss praised the official on his return after a much publicised case of alleged racist abuse involving Chelsea players.

'He is an excellent referee,' he said. 'I think I can speak for most when I say we were delighted to see him back and that is putting aside anything to do with this performance. He has a real passion for what he does and he is very, very good. We need the best referees performing week in, week out. He is a strong character and irrespective of what Mark has gone through, referees these days know they are judged from every angle.

'I think there was a handball for their goal but it was difficult for the referee to see it. They worked it very well and got the block inside the box and I think there were a lot of bodies around the ball. I've seen it since and speaking to our boys they are adamant there was a handball.'