Norwich City boss Hughton remains grounded after Celtic friendly success
Chris Hughton was quick to dampen down expectations last night after Norwich snatched a late 1-0 friendly win at Celtic.
Grant Holt's trademark poacher's strike a minute from time settled another useful close-season work out for the Canaries after their recent Austrian tour – but Hughton insists all that counts is the Premier League kick-off on August 18.
'I'm not taking anything away from a pre-season game in Austria but if you are coming to an arena like this and you can't enjoy playing here then there is something wrong,' he said. 'You should want to do well against a good team in a good period in pre-season. Most of the lads had never even been here so that was great experience for them. You look at the good things from the game, of course, but I want to stress it is the second game of pre-season. What counts is what happens after August 18 but it is good to win games. But I'm sure irrespective of the result they will have enjoyed tonight.'
Hughton admitted Holt's close range finish was typical of the club's triple-player-of-the-year, but the City chief was equally impressed with the resolute defensive display at Celtic Park.
'You could tell by his reaction that he is a typical number nine who enjoys scoring goals,' he said. 'He had to work hard because we changed the shape a little bit to accommodate the strikers we had. It was a little different role but he did it well.
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'It was certainly a good run out because we knew coming into this game we were probably two weeks behind Celtic in our pre-season with them having a Champions League game on the horizon. We knew it would be a tough one and it was no surprise to us that they had a fair amount of possession – which we expected – but I was delighted what I saw over the 90 minutes. We made a lot of changes again but we were always able to carry that threat. As a team we had to defend as well so that was a pleasing run out.'
Steven Whittaker's first half injury exit after turning his left ankle was the only sour note following an encouraging opening spell from the former Rangers' export. The Scottish international will be assessed over the coming days, but Hughton confirmed Korey Smith's absence was merely to accommodate the fit-again Steve Morison in his plans.
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'Korey did well at the weekend, he really did, but I made up my mind I wanted to play two teams,' he said. 'Iif you look at the weekend we didn't have Steve Morison so I wanted to play really my 20 senior outfield players here. It certainly wasn't a result of how he played.
'Steven just felt his left ankle so it was better to get him off the pitch. We don't know quite how serious it is. It is one of those that will become clear over the next couple of days. We're hoping that he will better tomorrow and the next day but we just don't know yet. We'll assess it in due course but he has gone over on his ankle.'