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HUGHTON ON FULHAM

16 August 2012

Manager looks ahead to opening day

THE 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season gets underway on Saturday and Norwich City Manager Chris Hughton is keen to get off to a positive start as he gears his side up for the challenge of Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The new Manager’s first competitive game in charge of the Canaries will be against Martin Jol’s Cottagers in a 3pm kick-off – a test Hughton is relishing.

He told Canaries Player: “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“The Premier League is demanding. It’s a tough league of quality players, and every game will be difficult.

“It's always nice to get off to a good start, but the whole season is over a long period of time. You can not win your first game but see good things to inspire you going into the next group of games.

“Fulham have had good players, good managers, and they have managed to maintain a good home record. I know they have gone through periods in the past where they've found it difficult to get results away from home, but during that time their home form has been outstanding enough to keep them consistent.

“Martin Jol is a very good friend of mine, who I know from his time at Tottenham. 

“What I have seen Fulham do over a period of time is improve the level of players they have had as the seasons have gone on. Consequently they have now maintained their position, and it's testament to the managers that they have had.”

Hughton himself has been busy throughout the summer, bringing in Steven Whittaker, Jacob Butterfield, Robert Snodgrass, and Michael Turner so far – however only two are likely to be available for selection against Fulham.

Whittaker picked up an ankle injury in the 1-0 pre-season win over Celtic, whilst Butterfield is continuing his recovery from a knee injury sustained at former club Barnsley.

“I'm happy with what we've brought in,” said Hughton. “They've all been involved, but it was disappointing for Steven Whittaker to have picked up an injury - though he's not too far away.

“In regards to Jacob Butterfield, we were aware that he was going to be a few weeks behind everyone else. He had an injury and an operation, but he is back in training now and I'm very much looking forward to seeing him involved.

“It's good to be able to start a season with most of your first team squad fit, and a good pre-season behind you.”

Steve Morison, Russ Martin, Robert Snodgrass, and John Ruddy were all involed in international action on Wednesday night, but returned injury free in time for training on Thursday.

The midweek internationals were particularly pleasing for goalkeeper Ruddy, who finally made his England debut in a 2-1 win over Italy after he came off the bench to replace Jack Butland.

Hughton said: “Firstly it's great for us at Norwich city to have a player involved in an international set up. 

“There are a lot of good young 'keepers, but I think the fact that he was included in the summer programme is important, as is the fact he has been included in the first friendly of the season.”

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