Chris Hughton: Manchester United squad rotation won’t make Norwich City task any easier
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Manager Chris Hughton is not expecting Manchester United’s squad rotation or injury problems to make life any easier for Norwich City as they bid for another shock victory at the expense of the Premier League leaders.
After a memorable 1-0 win over Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at Carrow Road in November, Hughton could become only the second Norwich boss to engineer a league double over United – a feat so far achieved only by Dave Stringer in the former Division One in both 1988-89 and 1989-90.
The bookmakers’ odds are certainly stacked against the Canaries, with odds as long as 11-1 for an away win at Old Trafford tomorrow (3pm).
Despite the likely absence of injured Robin van Persie (hip), Phil Jones (ankle) and Paul Scholes (knee) and reports that Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Rafael da Silva could all be rested ahead of the Champions League second leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Hughton is well aware of United’s strength in depth.
“It is a massive game they have on Tuesday. I think it will affect the line-up, but I don’t think it will affect the quality of the line-up,” said Hughton.
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“Irrespective of the team they put out, we know it is going to be one of high quality. At this moment they are the team who have the best quality squad in the division, there is no doubt about that. There is nobody who manoeuvres his squad any better than Sir Alex.”
City’s 2-1 home win over Everton last Saturday was their first in 10 league games and certainly a confidence boost.
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“United have only lost one game at home this season so the magnitude of the task is still there, but we are certainly better going into it for the result of last weekend,” said Hughton. “Beating United at home was one of our best performances of the season, and it had to be because that is the only way you can beat a Manchester United team.
“Any win at Old Trafford would have to see us play extremely well and for United to have one of their rare off-days. But you have to go into every game hoping the work you have done can come right and you can get that result.”
Hughton added: “There will be no fear from our players, we will want to go there and play.
“However, it is very difficult to go to Old Trafford with an open formation. If you are going to go there and take them on at what they do very well, then generally there is only one outcome.”
City are without midfield pair Alex Tettey and Andrew Surman with knee injuries.
“With Alex it is one we have just decided it’s best to rest it so we’ll assess and see how he can train during the following week. It’s not a major problem. “Andrew is certainly out for the next few games and one we have to continue to assess.”
Ryan Giggs, who scored his first goal for United against City in September 1991, could make the 1,000th appearance of his professional career.