John Ruddy targets end of March for Norwich City return

Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy doesn't expect to be back in action until the end of March.

Ruddy was initially ruled out for up to three months after suffering a torn thigh injury during the 1-1 draw at his former club Everton on November 24.

But speaking on the BBC's Football Focus programme on Saturday the England stopper appeared to rule out a February return, with a leg support brace not being removed until next week.

'The knee brace comes off in a week's time,' he explained. 'Once that is off we will be flying into it. Hopefully by the end of March we'll be back in action again.'

If Ruddy's prediction on the time scale of his recovery proves to be correct then understudy Mark Bunn looks set to get another 13 or so first team appearances under his belt before coming under pressure for his place in the side. A possible target for City's number one could be the trip to Wigan Athletic on March 30, with the Canaries having a two-week break from Premier League action before that fixture.

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Ruddy is delighted with the way the Canaries have coped in his absence - but isn't in the least bit surprised to see them doing so well under Chris Hughton following three years of success under Paul Lambert.

'It's down to the belief in the squad,' he said. 'We started slowly and had a couple of bad results but we always knew we had a great squad and the manager was very good, and his staff as well. We always knew we would pull through and we reaping the rewards now.

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'They (Lambert and Hughton) are completely different but they both get the job done. Paul was a very much a motivator, a man manager and left a lot of the coaching to his assistant (Ian Culverhouse).

'Chris is very much hands on. It doesn't matter how you get the job done as long as you get it done. We are doing really well at the moment and I am really enjoying working with Chris. Long may that continue.'

Ruddy's injury means he is likely to miss out on a place in the next England squad in the spring – but he admitted on Football Focus that even when fit he will struggle to get a place in Roy Hodgson's starting line-up, with Manchester's City's Joe Hart the undisputed No 1.

When asked about his chances of being a regular he said: 'Not unless something happens to Joe, he's a fantastic keeper. It's just a great opportunity for me to be in and around the squad and work with players like him and the outfield players. I just take it as it comes. If the opportunity comes along then hopefully I can take it.'

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