Sebastien Bassong back to help end Norwich City’s plight
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Chris Hughton confirmed Sebastien Bassong will return against his former club Tottenham tomorrow to help lead Norwich City’s fightback after a wretched run in league and cup combat.
City’s dismal FA Cup exit to non-league Luton followed a heavy Premier League defeat at Liverpool which was notable for the absence of key centre-back Bassong. The Cameroon international had been left out of both games as a precaution with a calf injury, but Hughton is ready to unleash the defender against Spurs tomorrow at Carrow Road.
“He is now back fit. He is a big plus for us,” he said. “He has been a very big player for us. You can talk about his contribution to the games but he is a big personality around the place. He is very good for the other players. He has that bit of experience with the younger players and it is really good to have him back around the squad. I don’t like to single one player out but he is important to us. Not just his ability but he is very good in that group of players.”
City midfielder Robert Snodgrass acknowledged Bassong is a key man in Norwich’s Premier League survival bid.
“Seb has been quality this year,” he said. “He has played at a good level. He is a good player. You need to have a leader at the back and he comes in and commands and does well, and I think that Michael Turner as well has done really well. I’m sure Seb will be trying to win the (Tottenham) game like the rest of us. It didn’t work out for him there towards the end so hopefully we can help him get one over his old club.”
Another influential face is also on the fringes of a return. Scottish defender Steven Whittaker was back on the bench at the weekend after a hip injury – and he is still to taste defeat while on the pitch in the Premier League since joining from Rangers in the summer.
“Steven has had a good week and a half training with us, was on the bench Saturday and not used,” added Hughton.
“Steve Morison (thigh) will be available we hope for QPR (on Saturday) and apart from John Ruddy we are OK.”
Ruddy’s continued absence allows City’s only January signing to date, goalkeeper Lee Camp, to figure in the Canaries’ squad to tomorrow, although Mark Bunn is expected to start.
And while the news has been good on the injury front, it has remained a difficult few days for Hughton given their defeats to Liverpool and Luton.
“You are right, it has been a tough week – but when we are at the level we are playing, you have to be able to ride these poor weeks, this poor run of form,” said Hughton. “We were on the back of a very good run and we are doing a lot of the same things. It is about form, injuries, the fine margins of getting a result when you don’t play so well and perhaps in a more difficult period the same type of performance does not get you anything.
“It is not science. We are in what I regard as a good position in the division. I think an example of how tough this league is, is the beginning of this run we were 10 points clear of the relegation zone. We are now seven points clear.
“There isn’t one player in that changing room who doesn’t know we have to do better than we have in the last two games. All I can do is reiterate that, but they know.
“Listen, I take full responsibility. I select the team, the tactics, but you have to be able to ride it. There would not be a single player of member of staff who has not gone through difficult times before. It is about making sure you learn from it, you benefit from it.
“The good thing is there is always a next game. A good result puts things in a different light. You don’t get carried away on a good run and you don’t get too down when it goes the other way. It has been a tough week or so but when we are at the level we are playing you have to be able to ride these poor weeks, this poor run of form.”