Chris Hughton warns Norwich City not to expect any favours from their Premier League rivals
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Chris Hughton will not rely on any favours from Norwich's Premier League rivals to secure the Canaries' top flight future.
City battled to a hard-earned point at Sunderland despite playing the final hour at the Stadium of Light with 10 men following Mark Bunn's sending off. Hughton insisted weekend league wins for strugglers Southampton and Aston Villa followed by Wigan's last-gasp victory over Newcastle underlined the Canaries' still have little margin for error.
Norwich will head to Wigan following the international break six places and seven points above the Latics, who currently occupy the final relegation place, but Hughton has already sounded a note of caution.
'You only have to look at Southampton and Villa winning,' he said. 'We have continually said the 40 point mark is where we want to get to and others have said it might be less, but I think if you start looking at less than that there are too many teams around us and below us. I'm still adamant that our thought process has to be around that 40 point mark. If you think less than that then football has a habit of smacking you in the face. We have tough games, four at home and four away. Everybody in this division is fighting for something. You see the series of games over the weekend and that was definitely the case, they are all big games. We just need to get those points to end up where we feel we deserve to be.'
Hughton views the latest international shut down as a chance for the majority of his squad based in Norfolk to prepare for the final onslaught.
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'I think you just cope with it because it is there,' he said. 'Generally, you welcome it because it gives you an opportunity to work and for players to get a rest. We have a lot of lads who have played a lot of games. Certainly the likes of (Javier) Garrido, Russell Martin, both centre halves, particularly Seb (Bassong), Bradley (Johnson), (Robert) Snodgrass all have played a lot of games this season. We'll certainly give the boys not on international duty a few days off but we can also work at the training ground. For the ones who do go away that is good from the point of view of the benefit they get playing international football, but the rest of them will be working here.'
Hughton believes Norwich's spirited Sunderland display illustrated his side is ready for the Premier League tests ahead.
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'All the credit must go to my lads. You knew they were going to be up against it when Sunderland started making a few changes and they threw a lot more bodies into forward areas,' he said. 'We knew we had to defend very well. Where I am disappointed is we started the game very bright, but there is so much football to be played still. You just have to look after your own business. We're all in there fighting. People talk about that 40 point target as a general one because the statistics show over the years it has usually been less than that. It is a rough estimate because there was the one big season when I think 42 points saw a team not staying in the division.'