Points, not quality, in Howson's mind

Midfielder Jonny Howson would be happy for Norwich to start "winning ugly" to keep themselves in the Barclays Premier League.

Football News: Jonny Howson

The Canaries host Stoke on Saturday looking for an instant response after last weekend's 4-1 trashing at Aston Villa, where they had taken an early lead only to be blown away by a blistering 16-minute spell from the home side to end the contest before half-time.

Chris Hughton's men have endured many a frustrating afternoon over the course of what has been an inconsistent season and left them still looking over their shoulders, just four points off the drop zone.

Howson - who returned from two months out because of a back problem with a late substitute appearance at Villa Park - believes at this stage of the season it has to be all about the end result rather than reflecting on some promising displays which have failed to deliver come the final whistle.

"In the last few weeks, when I have been watching on, we have been playing good stuff, looking comfortable, but come the end we have lost the game and you are thinking 'how has that happened?', the former Leeds midfielder said.

"It is maybe that knowhow of winning ugly - sometimes the top teams do that, they don't play great, but seem to come away with the win and that is what we maybe need to improve."

Howson, 25, added: "Some of the performances recently have been very good, it is just what matters most, stopping them scoring.

"We need to pick up some points where we not play too well, but come away with something.

"Recently we have had the opposite, where we have been playing well, but not picking up the points.

"You would take playing 10 terrible games, but getting enough points to see you safe.

"It is a case of getting the points however it comes.

"There will be no point us sat here at the end of the season us saying 'we played great in those final 10 games', but came away with no points.

"You ask any player what would they choose - three points or a good performance? I know which one the majority would take."

Hughton has seen his position under scrutiny all season, having shelled out some £20million-plus in the summer to bolster the squad.

Indeed, chief executive David McNally warned the board would consider their options should Norwich slip into the bottom three, only for Hughton's men to pull off a much-needed win over Tottenham in their last home fixture.

Howson, though, insists the squad are "all behind" the Canaries boss, who guided the Norfolk club to an 11th-place finish last season.

"We have never really been in the bottom three, but the manager's future keeps getting mentioned and I don't really know what people are expecting, I think he is doing a great job," said Howson.

"We are all behind him, you can see that from the home game against Tottenham, it showed we are all together, that has not changed.

"We know what goes on behind closed doors and know that everyone is together, players and staff, and I cannot see that changing."

Hughton, meanwhile, is confident of a positive response against a side just two points above Norwich in the table.

"Everybody would have been hurting after that, especially the players," he said.

"We have to expect a reaction, and so far this season when we have needed one, we have usually got one."

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