Norwich City boss Chris Hughton backs Gary Hooper to hit the goal trail
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Gary Hooper can be the man to fire Norwich City to Premier League safety, insists Chris Hughton.
Hooper has failed to score since a Boxing Day Premier League home defeat to Fulham ended a prolific spell of five goals in eight top-flight matches. Ricky van Wolfswinkel led the line against Stoke City last weekend, but Hughton is adamant Hooper is capable of hitting the goal trail over the run-in.
'Overall with Gary most of what he has produced has been good but strikers go through periods when the goals are going in and others when they don't and maybe the confidence takes a hit,' he said. 'He has certainly been involved during this recent period. If I look at the (Aston) Villa game he was key for Wes (Hoolahan's) goal, he had an opportunity himself and then a later one as well when he went through with the keeper to beat.
'That is just the ups and downs of being a striker. He is one who has got some goals for us, but the statistics don't lie. Our strikers have found it difficult.' Hooper was on target the last time City scored more than once in a Premier League game at West Brom on December 7 and Hughton admits that is putting huge pressure on the Canaries' search for points.
'You have to keep believing that we can score the goals to alleviate a bit of the pressure on the team,' he said. 'We went through a period not so long ago when we were creating a lot of chances and they were the games when we felt someone was going to feel the brunt of it. I don't mind where they come from in the team but it would be a bonus for the strikers. The frustration has probably been more the inconsistency in our play. We haven't gone through that period we experienced last season where we went on a sustained good run which allows you to build confidence and allows individuals to build confidence.'