Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Monday, September 23, 2013
Chris Hughton insisted he was right to keep Gary Hooper in reserve for an hour after an injury-hit start to his Norwich City career.
The former Celtic striker made his Premier League debut for the club in the 63rd minute at Carrow Road and was only denied a goal by Brad Guzan’s athleticism in the final stages. Hughton conceded he had erred on the side of caution with Hooper’s recovery from injury.
“I thought about starting him but it is impossible not to be off the pace given the length of time he has been out,” he said. “He trained three and a half days before Tottenham and I just felt we needed a little bit more in terms of players up to speed and Johan (Elmander) was in that category. It was good for us to introduce Gary but I suppose that might be a mark of where he is. He had two chances in the game and certainly the one from the (Javier) Garrido cross you would feel that a Hooper fully up to speed puts that one away.”
Bradley Johnson was the latest regular to watch the matchday experience from the sidelines after missing only one Premier League game through suspension last season.
“Where we are right at this moment is that it is just as tough to make decisions about the bench as it is the starting line up,” said Hughton. “Bradley was one I decided to leave out of the 11 and then I had a choice between him and (Alex) Tettey as a central one and I must admit Alex has been a little bit unlucky for someone who did so well for us last season. He has been unfortunate not to play so it was purely tactical.”
Both could feature in tomorrow’s Capital One Cup tie at Watford, but Hughton faces a defensive dilemma as he awaits the full extent of Sebastien Bassong’s first-half hamstring injury against Villa.
“We’ll assess that one and hope it isn’t too bad,” he said. “He just felt it slightly. I’m looking forward to putting a team out in the cup tie and it is a game we will want to win.”