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Norwich City boss Chris Hughton denies Wes Hoolahan’s FA Cup absence was due to Aston Villa bid

PUBLISHED: 17:54 04 January 2014 | UPDATED: 18:02 04 January 2014

Norwich City midfielder Josh Murphy was impressive on his first senior start in a 1-1 FA Cup third round tie against Fulham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City midfielder Josh Murphy was impressive on his first senior start in a 1-1 FA Cup third round tie against Fulham. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Chris Hughton dismissed suggestions Wes Hoolahan’s absence from his match day squad for Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup third round home draw against Fulham was due to a £1.5m bid from Premier League rivals Aston Villa.

Reports in the Midlands on Friday night claimed former City boss Paul Lambert had made an enquiry for the Dubliner but Hughton revealed Hoolahan had reported an unspecified injury concern on the eve of the Carrow Road cup-tie, in which Robert Snodgrass cancelled out Darren Bent’s opener.

“Wes reported an injury yesterday. At this moment he is having treatment. It is nothing to do with being linked to other clubs,” said Hughton, speaking immediately after the game. “Has there been a bid? Not that I am aware of, absolutely not. At the moment it is a hypothetical situation that you are asking me about. We had nine senior players not involved today and my biggest concern today is getting those back and bringing new ones in. It is not our intention to lose players. There is no news to report in or out. We are working, the same as most teams and anything we have to tell you we will.”

Hughton’s side now face a Craven Cottage replay but the City chief was adamant his much-changed line-up did enough to win the tie at the first attempt with Josh Murphy producing an eye-catching first senior start. Cottagers’ keeper David Stockdale denied Ricky van Wolfswinkel with a stunning second half stop to keep out his goalbound close range header.

“It was an outstanding save. From the angle that we had we thought it was in. It is a wonderful save,” said Hughton. “I thought we gave everything to win the game. We had to make wholesale changes with the injuries we have. David Fox played his first game in six weeks. Javier Garrido played his first game in midfield for us and young Josh (Murphy) was making his first start. We had to manoeuvre the team around a fair bit and taking that all into consideration I felt we were worthy of the win, if you look at our work in the final third and the amount of balls into the box. We conceded a poor goal. It is there for all to see. It was a fairly hopeful ball in our box and there was no doubt we should have dealt with it better.”

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