Chris Hughton is confident Norwich City will be ready for the big Premier League push
07:30 08 March 2014
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Chris Hughton saw nothing in Norwich’s implosion at Aston Villa to alter his conviction the Canaries will survive in the Premier League.
Hughton realises only a winning response against Stoke on Saturday can serve to limit the damage from a first-half collapse that punctured much of the positivity from City’s recent upswing.
“Yes we believe we can keep Norwich in the Premier League and there isn’t anyone here who feels different,” he said. “Our form has been up and down and we haven’t had the consistency that we would have liked but we are in and around a group of teams who are in a similar situation.
“Just in these recent weeks it has been shown what a win and conversely a defeat can do for you. We have to make sure we take care of our own business and make life a little bit easier for ourselves.
“We are going into that final stage of the season where the games become bigger, particularly against those around us in the league. We know that. This is the time when you look for the character, quality and resolution to come through.”
Hughton’s preparations this week did not require a plan to try and nullify Stoke’s creative spark Charlie Adam, who starts the first of a three-match ban for violent conduct.
“I’m sure it is a disappointment for the lad and Stoke that he is missing three games. You are always mindful of those things but we have to make sure we prepare for the 11, not one player,” he said. “It is always tough against Stoke. They have very good players and a consistency in the team but the challenge for us is we would go above them with a win. We are at home and certainly after our last performance we are grateful for that and we have to take full advantage.”
Jonny Howson’s long-range strike secured a 1-0 Premier League win in the corresponding fixture but Hughton detects signs of genuine evolution under Mark Hughes following the Tony Pulis era.
“That was probably as good as we have been away,” said Hughton. “If I remember right we had not won for a little while away from home and not just the fact we won but the performance I thought we were excellent. We caught them just as the new manager had come in and they were in the process of changing the style of play to some degree. There are certainly changes that I can see but what they still have in their team and the way they play they are physically a big team and they are able to still use Peter Crouch up front. He gives them a really good outlet. They are trying to play through midfield, but they can mix it up.”
Hughton has not been afraid to shuffle his own pack after previous heavy away defeats and the City boss faces the same dilemma following events in the West Midlands.
“You don’t want to change for change’s sake. You want to keep good players on their toes and those are decisions I have to make,” he said. “Irrespective of what has been said everyone here would have been hurting and particularly the players. They will know this is the next opportunity. Before Villa we were on the back of what I felt was four good performances, with Tottenham the stand out, and for 25 minutes we were good. That is the balance.”