Chris Hughton insisted he was right to keep defensive lynchpin Sebastien Bassong in reserve after Liverpool pummelled Norwich at Anfield.

City were torn asunder in Bassong’s absence, with the Parisian spared the carnage to rest a calf injury for what Hughton feels are pivotal tests ahead.

“He had a calf problem and it was the right decision not play him,” said the City boss. “He came up here and he was touch and go but the decision was not to play him. Hopefully he’s not out too long.

“For us and Seb it is about the season, not one game, and the thought of losing him for a good period of games is something we couldn’t take that chance.

“Liverpool were very good and there is always the big difficulty when you’re playing against these, it’s how you set your team up because of the way they play, they’re very expansive.

“If you want to play expansive as well, you create a lot of holes for the quality players they’ve got.

“And when you look at their front two, the movement and the ball retention, it makes it very difficult. But ultimately you have to defend well and we didn’t. Goals give teams lifts and probably that’s the big difference. Our best chance, certainly, was Ryan Bennett with the early header and I thought he should have done better. I believe he should have scored.”

Hughton admitted City’s large travelling support had been short-changed by his men.

“You never want to apologise for a performance because one thing I can guarantee is they are a really good group of players. They know where we are. They know that occasionally it’s going to be a really bad day for us,” he said. “This was a really bad day, but what I can’t do is sit here and say the players didn’t want to give enough or didn’t give enough.

“Sometimes it’s the circumstances of the game. We got well beaten, they were far better than us. But as regards wanting to do well, every single one of them wanted to do well. We always feel for the supporters because you want them to have a good day, and particularly in the conditions they’ve had to travel up in, you want better for them.”