Chris Hughton believes the best is yet to come from Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy
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Chris Hughton insists the best is yet to come from Norwich's City's England keeper John Ruddy - and the manager is in no hurry to see it.
Ruddy has kept two clean sheets in the club’s recent Premier League upswing after having to face some early season bombardments as the last line of defence.
The 26-year-old yesterday retained his place in Roy Hodgson’s senior plans for next week’s Sweden friendly and Hughton believes City’s collective improvement of late underlines his value to the cause.
“I think he is still developing. In each year that we hope he plays in the Premier League he will keep improving as a goalkeeper,” he said. “He has a wonderful coach in Dave Watson who will continue to push him. If it is a fact that he hasn’t been quite as busy in recent games then I am pleased about that.
“Sometimes in the games where you haven’t been that busy that shows the quality of a goalkeeper because there will come a period even in those games when you have to react or make a save and John has been excellent.”
Ruddy was once again joined in the Three Lions’ latest squad by Fraser Forster. The Canaries’ former League One title winner was exceptional for Celtic in their midweek Champions League win against Barcelona and Hughton believes England are blessed for potential rivals to current number one Joe Hart.
“Yes and also you have Jack Butland who is another extremely good young keeper,” said Hughton. “Sometimes that happens.
“I think England were unfortunate a while back with Ben Foster at West Brom who chose to retire from the national set-up, but it goes in phases like that.
“Perhaps you think there is not too much coming through and a couple of years later probably you have four or five pushing really hard and John right at this moment right up there pushing the main goalkeeper.
“I know Fraser well from my time at Newcastle. At that stage we knew the quality of goalkeeper we had. We had two extremely good young keepers in him and Tim Krul and I think it was just a case there wasn’t a place for both of them consequently. He is a monster of a young keeper and he was excellent the other night. I was changing between the Chelsea and Celtic game, but I found myself watching more of the Celtic game to be honest and I was delighted for him.”
Fit-again defender Steven Whittaker joined City’s growing international contingent earlier this week when he returned to the Scotland ranks for an upcoming friendly in Luxembourg after an impressive Premier League debut for the club against Stoke in place of the injured Russell Martin.
“I’m so pleased for him,” said Hughton. “We all know how frustrating it is when a player is out with an injury, particularly when you are coming to a new club, and keen to impress. I would like to think he is in the squad not just because of the quality he has got but more so the form he has showed. He has done very well. On the other hand I feel very sorry for Russell, who had been an ever-present for us and he has played a big part.”
Hughton hinted Martin has until today to prove his fitness for City’s weekend Premier League trip to Reading after picking up a back problem in the prvious away game at Aston Villa. Hughton confirmed Javier Garrido and Michael Turner are both fit for duty after being withdrawn in the second-half of the latest top flight win over Stoke.
“They are fit and available,” he said. “Michael had a dead leg but he trained on Thursday. He didn’t train on Monday, but possibly could have done. We wanted to make sure he wasn’t in a position where he could get a whack on it again. He has come through fine. With Javier, it was the knee and he is another one who has missed a couple of days training because we didn’t want to take any chances.
“Russell is very close. He hasn’t trained this week and we’ll see how he is (on Friday) and whether he is in a position to train. If he doesn’t then he won’t make the weekend.”