Chris Hughton - Norwich City’s Jonny Howson can soften Leroy Fer’s injury blow

Norwich City midfielder Jonny Howson made a successful return in Tuesday's 2-1 Premier League develo

Norwich City midfielder Jonny Howson made a successful return in Tuesday's 2-1 Premier League development win over Everton. Photo: Bill Smith

Chris Hughton wants Jonny Howson to cushion the blow of Leroy Fer's hamstring injury.

The Dutch international has been ruled out of this weekend's Premier League trip to Aston Villa after suffering the setback in training on Thursday. Hughton is still awaiting a full diagnosis from City's medical team before assessing how he plans for Fer's potential longer term absence, but Howson's return will fill the short-term gap. The influential midfielder successfully came through a 60-minute midweek development league outing after his own long term lay-off and Hughton would have no fears recalling him at Villa Park.

'He has been a big miss for us,' said Hughton. 'That is not taking anything away from the rest of the lads. Equally Alex (Tettey) coming back in has been a big plus for us, Bradley Johnson is in really good form but, yes, when Jon was injured he was arguably having his best spell in the team. It is good to have him back.

'Jon is a naturally fit lad. He has been out for a period of time but that initial period when you return you are full of life and enthusiasm and then it can sometimes level off but I would have no problems with Jonny and his fitness.'

Hughton insisted yesterday it was too early to put a timeline on Fer's absence amid reports he could be out for to six to 10 weeks.

'No, that is wild speculation. That is wide of the mark,' he said. 'We'll certainly be able to give a clearer picture in the next few days but anybody coming up with periods of time has to be unfounded because at this particular moment we don't know ourselves. It is a big blow because of the timing going into these last 11 games or so of the season, but it's an opportunity for others.'