CHRIS HUGHTON believes good form on home turf in the season’s run-in will hold the key to guaranteeing a third year of Premier League football for the Canaries – and sees Saturday’s visit of Southampton as an opportunity to put further distance between his side and the relegation zone.
City have lost only three times at Carrow Road in the league this season, and after managing to pick up only one victory away from Norfolk, it has been the key factor in elevating them to their current position of 13th.
They face three home matches against teams currently below them in the remaining ten games, starting with this weekend’s visit of the Saints, and Hughton hopes his team grab the initiative.
“When you’re playing against teams who are around where you are in terms of league position, they are of course games that you don’t want to lose,” commented the City manager at his pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“What’s more important for us is that it’s a home game, and for clubs like ourselves, we know that the success of our season will be based around the home form.
“It’s been good this season and that’s something we need to continue.”
With currently eight points separating the Canaries from the bottom three, Hughton is refusing to set a numerical target for survival and is keen to take things one step at a time.
“We haven’t set a survival target but it’s quite obvious that there are averages over the seasons, and most look at that 40 point mark,” he added.
“You have something in your mind, but the most important thing is the next game and if you continue to get enough points, then perhaps your goals change a little bit.”
The 54-year-old isn’t taking the threat of Southampton lightly, though, and has been impressed by what he’s seen of Mauricio Pochettino’s men, especially in recent matches on the road.
“They are actually a team that’s in very good form and we’ve seen in their recent away games at Newcastle United and Manchester United that their performances have been very good,” said Hughton.
“Perhaps their results haven’t gone as well as they would have liked, but we have to prepare the same as we would for any game that we have at Carrow Road.
“They have a lot of good offensive options, and they can certainly score goals. They have a freedom and aggression in the way that they play, so we have to be guarded against that.”
Hughton had earlier confirmed that Andrew Surman isn’t likely to feature again this season after undergoing a knee operation, while Alexander Tettey is still a fortnight away from returning to the first-team fray after a knee injury of his own.
“Surman had a small operation which has been very successful on his knee. It was a ligament operation that will keep him out, we think, probably for the season.
“Alex will be out still for another couple of weeks. He’s fine, but it’s just a situation where we need to rest him and just make sure that he gets the correct recovery what he needs, but we’re certainly very happy with what’s going on with him.”