Hughton banking on Norwich character

Norwich manager Chris Hughton feels his team have shown enough character during their three-match losing streak to remain positive for the challenges ahead in 2013.

Football News: Newcastle vs Norwich

The Canaries have endured a miserable return from their run of festive fixtures, with defeat at West Brom halting a remarkable 10-game unbeaten Barclays Premier League run which was swiftly followed by a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea on Boxing Day and then a 4-3 reverse when champions Manchester City came to Carrow Road at the weekend.

Hughton, though, will take his squad to West Ham on New Year's Day confident the group can maintain a safe distance from themselves and the battle for survival.

"We have gone through a difficult period, but we have also been against really difficult opposition," said Hughton.

"We have been close in every game, lost by just one goal each time, so I think there are certainly a lot of positives we have taken from these defeats.

"However, we have to be realistic - we are going to lose games and it is tougher for us against the better opposition.

"But every match you play is an opportunity to bounce back and we will look to do that against West Ham."

Hughton added: "If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I would be happy with the points tally we have at this stage, then yes, I would be.

"Now it is about getting back into good form and back to picking up points.

"Everyone is looking to get to 40 points, so we would like to get there too."

The Irons have slowed somewhat since their fine early season form, winning just one of the last eight league games, and suffered a fifth defeat in that run when going down 1-0 at Reading.

However, with their Boxing Day fixture at Arsenal postponed because of industrial action by London Underground staff, Sam Allardyce's squad have had a slightly less congested fixture list over the last 10 days.

Hughton, though, will not look to use that as an excuse.

"I would have preferred if it wasn't called off and that West Ham had played the same amount of games as us, but it doesn't always work out that way. You just have to cope with what the fixtures are," he said.

"It will be a tough one away from home.

"They are a very good side at home and we need to get back to what we have been doing best."

Norwich have doubts over strikers Grant Holt and Steve Morison, so on-loan Tottenham forward Harry Kane could lead the attack at Upton Park having recovered from three months out with a broken metatarsal.

The Canaries will have to make a change in midfield after Bradley Johnson collected a fifth yellow card against City.

Hughton is confident Jonny Howson can step in alongside the Canaries enforcer Alex Tettey.

"Jon would probably look at it that he's a bit unfortunate not to have got the number of games he is used to playing," Hughton said.

"But the form of Alex Tettey and Bradley Johnson has kept Jon out of the side, so tomorrow is another great opportunity for him."

Hughton is expected to look to strengthen the squad during the January transfer window, most probably in attack.

Norwich have been strongly linked with a £3million move for Brighton's Craig Mackail-Smith, a player they tried to sign in the summer.

The Norfolk club are also understood to be closing in on a deal with Utrecht for Zambian striker Jacob Mulenga.

Speaking in general about his plans for the January transfer window, Hughton said: "The squad is big enough numbers wise, but the decisions we have to make is when we have a few injuries are we going to get caught out a bit? However, that is the same for everyone.

"We have coped very well, but they are decisions we will look to make in the next couple of weeks."

 



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