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EYES ON THE PRIZE

28 March 2013

City boss speaks of premium on results over anything else

CHRIS HUGHTON insists Norwich City’s priority remains getting positive results from the final eight matches of the Premier League season… despite the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel highlighting the planning going into the Club’s long-term future.

The Canaries make the trip to Wigan Athletic on Saturday, a week after announcing the eye-catching transfer of the Dutch international striker that will go through in the summer.

Despite the obvious attention the move has attracted, City’s manager says all focus over the next seven weeks will be on the run-in as they look to secure a second year of Premier League football.

“There is no doubt about what is the most important thing, and that is the next eight games,” said Hughton when speaking at his pre-match press conference at Carrow Road on Thursday afternoon.

“Every club will be planning and making some decisions on what will happen in the summer - these are all the sorts of things that go on behind the scenes, but the most important thing is the next eight games for us.

“We need to make sure we get enough points to stay in the Barclays Premier League. This is where we want to be.”

Hughton believes opponents Wigan, who sit in 18th place and seven points behind the Canaries with a game in hand, have performed the best that they have in recent years despite being once again embroiled in a relegation fight.

He expects a tough encounter due to the experience the Latics have of such situations.

“The ironic thing is that they’ve found themselves in this position before, but I think arguably they’ve played better this season than other seasons, so it’s probably a little bit of a surprise to see where they are,” he added.

“They are a very good footballing side. Their form has been up and down, as indicated by their league position. It’s a position that they’ve managed to get out of in the past, though.

“It’s got to be about us, and we’ve got to make sure we go to Wigan with the same approach as we did going to Sunderland in our last game. We need to give ourselves every chance of winning the football match.”

He confirmed that all of the City players away on international duty came back unscathed, and that John Ruddy returned to full training this week after four months out with a thigh injury.

“John trained on Thursday for the first time, so the process now is to just try and get him up to speed. He will need a few games at Development level before we could consider him.”

On the internationals, he added: “Seb Bassong went and didn’t play, which was one I suppose we were quite pleased with given the form he’s been in.

“Kei Kamara played, and at the stage he is in at the moment, games are good for him. I was disappointed for Wes (Hoolahan) though, because I think with Robbie Keane being out there was an opportunity for him to play. It’s good for (Steven) Whittaker to get 90 minutes under his belt.”

Scotland duo Robert Snodgrass and Russell Martin both missed out due on their game against Serbia on Tuesday due to suspension and injury respectively, but Hughton says both will be available for Saturday’s match at the DW Stadium.

“Russell Martin’s ok. Although it was a hamstring, in effect it was coming from his back. It’s something Russell’s had before, but it’s generally something that he’s been able to manage quite well.

“Robert’s fine (after his sending off against Wales). It’s the ups and downs of the game. Firstly he’s representing his country, which is a plus. I think his desire to want to do well lead to the last challenge, but the fact that he missed Tuesday won’t do us any harm.”


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