CHRIS Hughton is fully aware of the importance of this Saturday’s match against Reading… and says there’s enough spirit in the squad to respond to the challenge by earning three points.
The Canaries begin their final stretch of five games at home to the basement club in the Premier League, with any potential win at this stage seen as crucial in the race to stay in the top flight.
City’s manager is confident, given the level of performance in recent matches, that his side will have enough about them to get the job done.
“It is a big match for us, there’s no doubt about that,” he said at his pre-match press conference at Colney Training Centre on Thursday afternoon.
“Our form probably hasn’t been indicated in points as such, but we feel in recent games that if officials’ decisions had been better, we would have gone on to get wins.
“We’re on the back of a very good performance at the Emirates Stadium last week, and there is that confidence in the team.
“We’ll go into the game in very confident mood because, around here, the spirit has been very good. We have to capitalise on that.”
Reading earned their first point under new boss Nigel Adkins with a 0-0 draw at home to Liverpool last weekend, and Hughton knows what to expect from a team clinging to their hopes of survival.
“I think irrespective of change in anything, or change of the manager, of course they’re going to be fighting,” he added.
“They’re a very proud football club and they’re a good team. They’ve found out how difficult it is in this division, as we all have.
“Nigel Adkins has implemented a little bit of a different style, and they’ll be excited by the prospect of having got a result against Liverpool. Ultimately, this is probably a game they need to win.”
Hughton said a decision is yet to be made on whether John Ruddy
, who has successfully come through two development games, will return to the fray, but he’s hopeful Bradley Johnson will be available after the midfielder picked up a dead leg in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.
“These are decisions that we have to make, but what is very important for us is that John will continue to put himself in contention by the fact that he is training and he’s played two games,” he said.
“We’re also conscious that he’s been out a long time. At the moment, we’ve got a goalkeeper in Mark Bunn who has done very well. We’ll make that decision over the next day or so.
“We’re also hoping Bradley Johnson is going to be fit enough to feature.”