Norwich City boss Chris Hughton backs Mark Bunn to step up at Southampton
Chris Hughton will have no fears throwing back-up keeper Mark Bunn into the Premier League spotlight at Southampton if John Ruddy is ruled out with a thigh injury.
The Canaries' chief confirmed yesterday he would make a final decision ahead of the midweek away game following the results of Ruddy's medical scan, after the England international was substituted in the closing stages of the 1-1 draw at Everton.
Bunn's spot kick heroics at home to Tottenham recently helped clinch a Capital One Cup quarter-final tie against Aston Villa next month and Hughton insists City would be in safe hands at St Mary's.
'We would have no worries at all about bringing in Mark,' he said. 'When we brought him in originally that was the exact reason, because of his experience, which allows the two youngsters we have here to go out and get some games, like Jed (Steer) has done for a period of time and Dec (Rudd) of course at some stage can hopefully get a similar valuable experience. Whether John plays really depends on the scan. He is reasonably sore at the moment. We certainly wouldn't want to rule anything out until we know for definite. I think you would have to say at this particular moment there is a doubt, but we haven't given up any hope. It was sore enough for him to come off although we are hoping it is not too bad. I think it is one where he could have possibly continued but we felt we weren't in a position to take a chance.'
Michael Turner is definitely ruled out of the south coast trip with a damaged shoulder, and Hughton indicated yesterday the centre-back is unlikely to return before Sunday's televised Premier League test against his former club Sunderland. On the positive side, Hughton is able to count on the versatility of fit-again defender Russell Martin.
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'Russell has trained very well and the good thing about his injury was he was still able to do a fair amount of cardio-vascular work and that has kept his levels up,' he said. 'I think with Russell and Steven Whittaker you have got flexible players. Steven has arguably played in a few more different positions than Russell, but you need in every squad two or three of those type of players. He will be very valuable to us.
'Michael certainly won't make Wednesday and probably not Sunday either. We don't know how long exactly he will be out. The good news is that it won't be for a sustained period. It really will be about how comfortable he is to play with it and his pain threshold. At the minute it is still too sore. It will certainly be weeks rather than a longer period.'
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City's latest Premier League test at Southampton will also be notable for the return of referee Mark Clattenburg after the official was cleared last week of racially abusing Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel.
'I think everybody in the game is delighted to see him back,' said Hughton. 'He is someone who I have met on a few occasions and he has a real passion for what he does. He is an excellent referee and I think it is pleasing to see him back and I believe he will get a good reception. He is back doing what he does best.'