Norwich City boss Chris Hughton has limited scope to shuffle his pack for Crystal Palace New Year’s Day test

Norwich City defender Russell Martin was a key man against Manchester United. Picture by Paul Cheste

Norwich City defender Russell Martin was a key man against Manchester United. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Chris Hughton knows how vital it is to get his team selection right against Crystal Palace ahead of a fourth festive Premier League game in 11 days.

The Canaries' chief has limited options across midfield areas with Jonny Howson a major doubt and three senior men still on the sidelines, although David Fox has returned from his loan spell at Championship club Barnsley. Central defender Michael Turner is also back in contention following suspension. Hughton is well aware he has to factor in a gruelling recent schedule for the trip to Selhurst Park.

'If I look at the two games over Christmas we made three changes from one game to another and our energy levels in the (Manchester) United game I thought were very good,' he said. 'That goes a little bit against logic because physically that is not the best thing you can do for two games in two days but you have to factor in everything from form to the opposition we are playing, and they are the decisions you make.'

Russell Martin and Wes Hoolahan justified Hughton's faith against the champions with Martin a willing outlet during City's best work at Carrow Road.

'I thought he was excellent,' said Hughton. 'Particularly with the lack of width they had on the left side it allowed us to be quite productive. Sometimes a player's performance can be governed by what he is allowed to do on the day and with (Shinji) Kagawa playing very narrow on that left-hand side it allowed him to get into advanced positions. That was probably the frustrating part about the game. You are always prepared to throw up your hands when a performance or the team you select hasn't warranted a victory - Fulham being the case in point - where we didn't dominate the game enough to win it, but United was a really difficult one to take because it would have been a big scalp for us and we had chances to get a deserved win.'