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Norwich City boss Chris Hughton loves it when a plan comes together

Chris Hughton and Stoke boss Tony Pulis embrace before the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Chris Hughton and Stoke boss Tony Pulis embrace before the game. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

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Chris Hughton said Bradley Johnson’s superb header underlined the huge potential of his squad to punish Premier League rivals from set plays.

Johnson despatched Robert Snodgrass’ dipping free-kick to sink a physically imposing Stoke outfit, but Hughton wants to see more of the same given the quality in his ranks.

“It was very good technique (from Bradley). I haven’t seen the goal again since, but knowing the angle of where the ball was delivered and where Bradley was I didn’t expect it to go in. I was a little bit surprised,” he said. “He can do well in the air and it was a good leap from Bradley.

“It is pleasing that we are going through a good period of set plays, and so we should. We have real good delivery from people like Robert and Anthony Pilkington. We should have been making more of it and at this moment we are.”

Hughton admitted the injury loss of defender Michael Turner was a potentially major blow at the other end to thwart the likes of Kenwyne Jones and Peter Crouch during Stoke’s second half surge.

Both Turner and Javier Garrido (suspected knee injury) will be assessed over the coming days by City’s medical staff, but Hughton was optimistic neither face a long spell on the sidelines.

“I must admit I have just come out of the changing room and I am not too sure what the boys have done. I know they are not serious ones, but still enough for them not to finish the game,” said the Norwich boss.

“We will assess them and take it from there. I have a feeling Javi’s is not too bad because he was carrying it for a little while and Michael too.

“Michael has been doing so well for us and he is a big one physically as well. We needed him there, particularly up against Crouch and the set plays. To change it was a blow.

“When we had to do it also with Garrido, if anything that gave us a little bit more height with Ryan Bennett coming in – but it was still a disruption. We had to soak up a lot of pressure but we broke well when we could.”

Hughton confirmed fellow defender Russell Martin was ‘not close’ after a tentative fitness test on Friday following the back injury suffered against Aston Villa. Steven Whittaker came in for an assured Premier League debut in another 90 minute shift after his long term ankle ligament problem.

“The reason I brought Steven in was his versatility. He can play anywhere of seven or eight positions,” said Hughton.

“Really good, considering he had a long period of not doing anything and then one development game. He had a real tough 90 minutes and I am delighted for him.

“In the end, Russell was not so close. He gave it a go on Friday because he felt a lot better, but once we gave him a mini fitness test, no. We need to let it settle down for a couple of days and I don’t want him doing anything until Wednesday and then he can push for next weekend.”

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