The time has come for Wes Hoolahan to do his talking on the pitch at Norwich City
Wes Hoolahan must do his talking on the pitch for the rest of Norwich City's Premier League run-in.
Chris Hughton opted to withdraw the 31-year-old against Stoke after his third start inside a week which served to underline his residual value for both club and country. Hughton now wants the focus to settle on Hoolahan's creative ability to influence the Canaries' defining phase of the season, rather than the Dubliner's career prospects or the fallout from his recent goal celebration against Aston Villa.
'I think we all know it has been a difficult time for Wes not playing the games he would like and with the bid from Aston Villa but from the day that window closed Wes has been excellent on the training pitch,' said Hughton. 'I thought he did well (at Villa), I watched the Republic (of Ireland) game in midweek and he was excellent and that is the reason why I played him in this game, but Wes has not been involved so much this season.
'He played 90 minutes last week and 60 for the Republic so arguably you could say he has had more football in the last week than for a long time. I just wanted some fresh legs in there in the second half and Jonny Howson is now back and most remember how well he was doing before he got injured. I felt he could give us a spark.'
Hughton also introduced both Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander from a substitutes' pool that did not include Ryan Bennett.
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'I just wanted more offensive options on the bench. I think more so at home than away you can do that,' said Hughton. 'I felt we could go with one defender on the bench and more offensive options.'
Fit-again striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel was preferred to Hooper but the Dutchman was unable to add to his solitary Premier League goal scored against Everton on the opening day.
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'There is no doubt he is working hard enough for the team,' said Hughton. 'I think it is a combination of things. It is us making sure we provide the opportunities for him to score and it is perhaps a lack of confidence from the lad himself in struggling to adapt to the league. We've got to play a part in that and create more for him.'