Norwich City is seeking fringe benefits ahead of Crystal Palace test
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In a build-up dominated by a tale of dressing room frustration sparked by relative inactivity, Chris Hughton is poised to audition some of his fringe men against Crystal Palace in a bid to address Norwich's injury plight.
The January transfer window is one avenue to provide some relief with three senior wide midfielders recovering from injuries and a fourth in Alex Tettey also missing until the new year, but Hughton's short-term remedy centres on a mix of youth and international experience. Nathan Redmond offers both and the Norwich manager has no fears about entrusting the teenager with extra responsibility.
'He is certainly giving himself the best opportunity to be a top player because he is someone who works very hard on the training pitch and anyone who has spoken to him would realise he is a very mature individual for 19,' said Hughton. 'We have to remember that is his age and he will have ups and downs and even within games where he will show great quality and then perhaps not be as involved. That is partly due to the position he plays as much as his age. For our supporters who have seen him this season they will have seen that – the qualities and also the youth, but there are other options in the squad.
'Steven Whittaker can play higher, Martin Olsson, Wes (Hoolahan) can play in a wide area and we also have both Josh and Jacob Murphy. They will certainly be around the squad now.'
Hughton attaches no extra significance to Crystal Palace's visit despite enduring struggles on the road in the Premier League which reached their nadir at Manchester City; albeit Tottenham's 6-0 hammering last weekend merely underlined the Blues' mastery on home soil.
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'I think to a degree it does put things in perspective,' he said. 'It emphasises in this league if the top teams have a very good day and we don't defensively then the Champions League sides can really put you away. It doesn't take away the fact that, for us, it was an awful day and those bad feelings we had. Palace is a home game and we will always feel we have more opportunities at home. We'll have a full house as always and the fact it is against a team around us in the table adds a bit more to it. I never speak in terms of 'six point' games because it isn't. It is a big game for us. We are back at home after a good win against West Ham and we need to take some of those qualities in the second half into this one.'
Leroy Fer's clinical finish sealed that previous win over the Hammers before his thumping header in a losing cause at Newcastle provided fresh evidence the Dutchman has acclimatised to the Premier League.
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'Leroy is somebody that of course has improved in the period of time he has been here,' said Hughton. 'He was brought up in a different structure and at times perhaps a more tactical and technical game, but he is adapting well. There are still improvements he can make but the fact he has played a lot of the games and been fairly consistent tells you he is making progress.'