Gary Hooper call was the right one for Norwich City’s battles ahead - Chris Hughton

Norwich City striker Gary Hooper was taken off in the second half of the 1-0 Premier Leageu defeat t

Norwich City striker Gary Hooper was taken off in the second half of the 1-0 Premier Leageu defeat to Mancheser United as a precaution. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City's persistent injury problems this season forced Chris Hughton to err on the side of caution with Gary Hooper's exit against the champions.

The prolific striker's second half substitution with the hosts' trailing to Danny Welbeck's goal provoked an angry response from sections of the Carrow Road support, but Hughton confirmed afterwards Hooper had complained of a tightness in his leg during the break. With Jonny Howson yet to feature over the festive period with a back complaint and a number of senior midfielders on the long term casualty list Hughton admitted he is now forced to play the long game in the midst of a congested spell.

'Yes, he flagged it up at half-time and that was a precaution from us. We have a lot of games in this period coming up and we have to look at the bigger picture and make sure he is ready for those,' said Hughton. 'It was an injury precaution. He is fine, just a little bit of tightness where if you don't take him off at the right time it can become worse.

'I understand the fans' frustration at that point because he had scored in our last four home games. They weren't aware of the whole story and I am quite sure if they were the reaction would have been different, but I had no problem with that.'

Influential midfielder Howson remains a major doubt for the New Year's Day trip to Palace.

'It is one we felt would have settled down a little bit quicker than it has,' said Hughton. 'The reason we have been reluctant to rule him out of games is because he is a good healer and a strong individual. That is why we have let it as late as possible in the last few games but at this moment he was too sore and he has to be a doubt still for Wednesday, but we will assess that again over these next days.'

Wes Hoolahan's return to the ranks in an advanced role softened the impact of Howson's continued absence from Norwich's midfield.

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'I thought Wes was excellent,' said Hughton. 'We know what Wes gives us in regards to our link-up play and trying to keep a momentum and flow going.

'We had a good day in that part of the pitch and they didn't have one of their better days.'

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