CHRIS Hughton says the fact that all the clubs near the bottom of the Premier League are capable of winning matches means his Norwich City team need to keep pushing to guarantee their top flight status.
The Canaries widened the gap to the relegation zone after last weekend’s victory against Reading, with Sunderland and Saturday’s opponents Stoke City also picking up maximum points in the battle for survival.
City’s manager thinks the traditional safety target of 40 points is right on the bubble this season, though.
“We’ve continually spoke about that 40 point mark, and that’s when you feel a little bit more comfortable once you’ve reached that figure,” he explained at his pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“The thing with this season is that when you look at the teams around us, they’re all capable of winning games. The answer is you don’t know – will it take more than that? I think it will take at least 40.
“We have four games to get the required points, and we have to have the attitude to get points from each of those games.”
This weekend’s trip to the Britannia Stadium sees City pit themselves against a side a point and two places below them in the table.
Although Potters manager Tony Pulis has received criticism from some supporters during the team’s recent bad run, Hughton thinks he has done a commendable job in establishing them as a Premier League force.
“It will be a very tough game. Irrespective of what stage of the season or what sort of season they’re having, it’s always a tough place to go,” he added.
“You’ve got a manager there that’s done a tremendous job in the years that he’s been there. He’s made it a very difficult place to go and he’s made it a tremendous atmosphere for the home team.
“For us as a Club here, if we are in a position where Stoke have been in the last few years in this Barclays Premier League, then we would be delighted.
“It’s a model for teams like ourselves who have got promotion – of course we’re in our second season in this division and what you desperately want is that type of stability.”
City own stability in defence was disrupted last weekend as Michael Turner limped off with a groin injury against Reading, and after confirming the 29-year-old will miss Saturday’s match, Hughton discussed Leon Barnett’s recall from Cardiff City and John Ruddy
’s potential return in goal.
“Michael will miss the weekend and we’ll assess it next week. I would think he’d be touch and go for the Villa game, which is our next game at home,” he said.
“We certainly at this stage of the season need to make sure that we protect ourselves. Leon’s gone there for a good period and been involved in their Championship-winning end of season, but we needed to make sure that we do things right here.
“We’ll make a decision on John. He’s gone through a period of training – the good news is that there’s been no problem with the injury itself and he’s been involved in a couple of games. We need to assess exactly the level he’s at.”