Luciano Becchio is not a forgotten man, insists Norwich City boss Chris Hughton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Striker Luciano Becchio has not become the forgotten man of Norwich City's Premier League squad, manager Chris Hughton insists.
The Argentine forward has started only two matches for the Canaries since his January deadline move from Leeds United, making a further four appearances as substitute, and has not seen any action in the last four games. His last outing came four weeks ago when he was introduced in place of Wes Hoolahan five minutes from the end of City's 1-0 defeat at Wigan.
It has not been an auspicious start to life in the top flight for a player who scored 19 goals for Leeds this season before moving to Carrow Road. But as City prepare to face Aston Villa at Carrow Road today (3pm), Hughton said Becchio's absence from the teamsheet was not a sign that he was finding it difficult to fit in with his new club.
'No, it's just been a choice,' he said. 'I think what we have in Luciano is a player who in some ways is quite similar to Grant Holt and we have perhaps just tried to get the right balances. With Kei Kamara, he has given us a different type of player and option.
'But Luciano has settled into the group very well. It has just been a personal choice from myself as to who I have chosen to go with.'
With City's strikers contributing just eight Premier League goals this season – the defenders have scored 11 times – they are still three goals short of their lowest all-time top-flight tally of 36.
'It is fair to say that we have been striving for the right combinations to get the goals that we need,' said Hughton.
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'Would I have liked more goals? Yes, I would have done.
'We have found it difficult to get the goals we need, but you're still striving for the right formulas, the right service to not only score goals but win football matches.'
Meanwhile, Villa boss Paul Lambert has been keen to play down the significance of his second return visit to Carrow Road nearly 12 months after walking out on the Canaries.
'I think if you get caught up in my connection there it deflects from the game,' he said. 'It's not about me going back there because I've been back already. I had three fabulous years there and took a team from League One, built it up, the crowd bought into it, the lads I worked with were fantastic.
'It's another game and I'm looking forward to going down there. I have fantastic memories there but it has gone. I'm looking forward to it because I had three really enjoyable years there that I don't think anyone would have seen coming.
'The players I worked with were fantastic and one or two are still there. I probably know them better than they know themselves, really.
'There are a few teams right in the relegation battle anyway. We know we've got a hard game there but we're certainly playing well enough. That's the big difference.
'My job is here. We have to win. If our fans are anything like they were for the League Cup game then we'll be taking a ferocious support down there. It will be a tough game but we're certainly playing well.'
The Canaries, one point ahead of their visitors, are without injured defender Michael Turner (groin) for the second game in a row, while Hughton must decide whether to finally recall goalkeeper John Ruddy after more than five months on the sidelines.
Villa will again be without defender Ciaran Clark (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (groin), both of whom missed Monday's 6-1 win over Sunderland.