Norwich City boss Chris Hughton backs returning referee Mark Clattenburg

PUBLISHED: 09:33 28 November 2012

Mark Clattenburg takes change of Norwich City's Premier League clash at Southampton tonight.

Mark Clattenburg takes change of Norwich City's Premier League clash at Southampton tonight.

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton has welcomed referee Mark Clattenburg back into the fold ahead of tonight’s Premier League match at Southampton.

The 37-year-old official will be the man in the middle at St Mary’s Stadium (7.45pm) as the Saints play host to the Canaries, his first match in charge in more than four weeks after he was accused of making a racist comment to Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel during the game against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Clattenburg was cleared as Metropolitan Police dropped their investigation into the allegations, and the FA decided there was no case to answer, but he later spoke of his “truly frightening” ordeal and the fear that his career would be wrecked.

The Gosforth referee was back in action as fourth official at Sunday’s Tottenham-West Ham game and will now take charge of his first Norwich match since the visit of Queens Park Rangers in August.

“I think everybody in the game is delighted to see him back,” said Hughton. “He is somebody that I have met on a few occasions and he has a real passion for what he does.

“He’s an excellent referee and I think it’s pleasing. I think he will get a good reception. He is a very, very good referee and he’s back doing what he does best.”

Clattenburg has issued four red cards and 28 yellows in his six Premier League games this season, giving him the highest card average in the top flight.

But Hughton gave England’s referees a big thumbs-up, rating them the best in the game.

He said: “If I look at the standard of refereeing abroad then here I think we have the best referees, I really do. The biggest problem they have is that their job has become so tough.

“Whichever weekend you go through, there will be decisions you will see that they will show how ever many times on television that are almost impossible to call on the day.

“What a referee could get away with before, perhaps making that poor decision and not too much being said about it, is now highlighted from 12 different angles.

“So I think it’s almost an impossible job, but I certainly feel if I look at the quality of refereeing here, it’s the best.”

Norfolk's trusted business finder

Most Read