Norwich City striker Gary Hooper is ready to be unleashed against Tottenham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Chris Hughton confirmed yesterday Gary Hooper is in the frame to face his boyhood club Tottenham at White Hart Lane this weekend.
Hooper has suffered no adverse reaction to his return to training over the international break following a shin injury in the club's pre-season finale that has delayed his top flight bow.
The 25-year-old spent his formative years at Spurs before working his way back to the top via non league after being released from Tottenham's youth set-up. Hughton admitted Hooper is just one of a number of potential selection dilemmas with only long-term injury absentee Elliott Bennett out of contention.
'Gary is fit, which is good news so now our decision is whether we use him this weekend and do we think it is the right time for him to come into our plans,' said Hughton. 'Ryan Bennett is fine after he had to miss the Southampton game and at the moment all the international boys have come back well.
'We had quite a high percentage involved in games on Tuesday so we have just had a light session today (Wednesday). That is a consequence of where we are now that we have more players going away on international duty, but they all seem in good shape. I was nervous over the past fortnight, but we are fine.
'It does affect the preparation but the leveller is that it affects everyone and perhaps the Champions League sides will have seen the majority of their players go away.'
Hughton resisted the urge to bring in loan cover for Elliott Bennett despite being strongly linked with the likes of James Troisi and West Ham's Ricardo Vaz Te in the closing days of the transfer window.
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'We worked very hard and it was something we wanted to do but not at all costs,' he said. 'What we have here is a very structured recruitment process and we worked very hard over the summer.
'With the injury to Elliott it was a blow to us. It had to be the right player and if that wasn't the case we knew we would be happy with the options we had.'
Hughton opted to sanction Jacob Butterfield's permanent move to Middlesbrough but the City boss is in no rush to allow the likes of Dani Ayala or Luciano Becchio to head to Teeside via the loan route.
'Probably not at this particular moment,' he said. 'Daniel is a little bit different because he is somebody who has perhaps not had the games he needed when he went out on loan at (Nottingham) Forest. I think with Luciano he has been very good for us around the group even though he would disappointed not to get the games. He is very much part of the squad. What we have to do is protect what we have squad-wise first and foremost. For what we have brought in we are light numbers-wise to 12 months ago. I think the quality of the group has improved.
'Jacob was a difficult decision in some respects. It was me who brought him to the football club and when you bring them in you have the intent they will settle in and do well and prove a good investment. The flip side is he now needs games at this stage of his career and with what we have in the squad I could not guarantee that would be the case. At his age he needs to be playing. We took him originally off the back of an injury so he has missed a lot of first team football.'