Norwich City boss Chris Hughton knows the stakes are high against Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa
Chris Hughton is urging Norwich City's support to pay tribute to Paul Lambert's feats at Carrow Road – before helping roar his side into the Capital One Cup semi-finals tonight at the Aston Villa manager's expense.
The unresolved legal repercussions from Lambert's acrimonious summer exit continue to rumble on, but Hughton is in no doubt his predecessor's achievements stand the test of time.
'He did a magnificent job at the football club and there wouldn't be one player here who played under him that would have a bad word to say against him,' said Hughton. 'He brought a lot of these boys through to the Premier League and they are grateful I am sure. I hope he gets a good reception.
'I think anything to do with legal issues is in the hands of others and will be dealt with in the correct way. I can only speak about the football job he did and what I have inherited here. I had a great group of lads who integrated the new players into that group in a very, very good way. I think you only have to look at his achievements in the three years he was here. He has been an incredibly successful manager.'
Hughton insists he will do everything in his power to guide the Canaries into the League Cup last four for the first time since the club's last Wembley success in 1985.
'It gets more important the closer you get to the final,' he said. 'Yes, it is an important trophy for us and it also keeps the momentum going. It is one in a string of games and when you are on a run you don't want that to finish. I think his mission would be to get through to the semi-final and if I speak from my side, this is a cup competition that we would like to make progress in. I am quite sure that Paul would be exactly the same – irrespective of what this fixture means one of us will get through to a semi-final. I would imagine that he is every bit as desperate as I am for the right reasons.
'We are home, but Villa is also in good form. If we can play with the confidence we have done in this recent run then we give ourselves a good chance. It is a cup tie and they are always played in a good atmosphere. I am quite sure we will have a vocal crowd behind us and that tends to raise the levels.'
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Norwich were held to a 1-1 Premier League draw at Villa Park in late October after dominating most of the contest in the Midlands, but Hughton dismisses any potential psychological advantage.
'I thought we should have won the game the way it panned out,' he said. 'We were fortunate they went down to 10 men and we used that really well. Villa, in the last two games, have played a different system to that day and there are also a few changes to the team as well. What they will have is a lot of energy. Paul's teams are always high-energy.
'It is an opportunity to keep a run going and perhaps for those who haven't played regularly to stamp some authority on a position or get the minutes they need. It is also a bit of a release. We know how difficult the Premier League is and perhaps you can look at this competition in the same way. The desire is there to get into a semi-final just as it would be to win three points on Saturday, but it gives you a break from the normality of the league.'
Hughton conceded a club record nine-match unbeaten run in the Premier League may free him up to go all out for a cup win.
'Possibly, yes, but in every team I have fielded in this competition so far it has been a team I felt could win the game,' he said. 'There won't be the wholesale changes I made in the previous three games. We had a lot of players available for Spurs, perhaps not the same numbers this time around, but if I didn't think that team could have won against Spurs I wouldn't have put it out. We are down slightly on numbers now from that time - when in effect we had no injuries.'