Goss backs Hughes to beat boo-boys
DAVID CUFFLEY Andy Hughes was today hailed as an “unsung hero” in Norwich City's upturn in fortunes - for gritting his teeth and trying to prove his critics wrong. The 29-year-old midfielder has held his place at right-back since being preferred to Jürgen Colin for the FA Cup tie at Chelsea, and has started the last 10 matches - his longest unbroken run in the first eleven this season.
Andy Hughes was today hailed as an “unsung hero” in Norwich City's upturn in fortunes - for gritting his teeth and trying to prove his critics wrong.
The 29-year-old midfielder has held his place at right-back since being preferred to Jürgen Colin for the FA Cup tie at Chelsea, and has started the last 10 matches - his longest unbroken run in the first eleven this season.
And Hughes, often on the receiving end from disgruntled fans since his £500,000 move from Reading in the summer of 2005, was saluted for his strength of character by one of City's UEFA Cup stars.
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Jeremy Goss, the club's new community ambassador, said Hughes had a lot to offer the Canaries after helping to steer them clear of the Championship danger zone in a run of four wins in six matches.
Said Goss: “There are some outstanding players who are scoring all the goals and making all the headlines. But the ones who don't get the credit, who do a lot of the work in the team, should be praised up as well - the unsung heroes. The back four have been exceptional, take Adam Drury, and now you see Hughesy coming into his own, giving the best of himself.
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“He's a strong character who's taken a lot of stick and he's thick-skinned enough to fight past that and show the fans what a good player he is.”
Goss earned a permanent place in City history books for his goals in Europe against Vitesse Arnhem and Bayern Munich in 1993, but has not forgotten his long years of reserve team football and only fleeting senior appearances.
He said: “I felt it a lot - confidence is a huge part of everyone's game. And there were lots of times when things were quite tough. I wasn't the most gifted player the club's ever had and I put my hand up and say that, but I worked my socks off for the team, myself, my family and the fans. I did that every single training session and every game.
“And it still hurt when you ran down the South Stand to pick the ball up for a throw-in and people were slagging you off. It hurt even more when people slagged you off in and around where your mum and dad and brothers and sisters sat to watch you play. It hurts bad and it hurts deep, but there's nothing you can do about it other than go out and play and go out and prove them wrong.
“Hughesy is that sort of character. If you meet him as an individual he's an extrovert guy who's a laugh a minute. He's a lovely fellow to have round the changing room. He's gone out and proved to everyone that he's a good player and he's got a lot to offer this football club.
“Where's his best position? It's a good question. It's up to the manager and the coaching staff and manager to establish that.”
Goss, who succeeds Bryan Gunn in his new ambassadorial role, said he fully expected Peter Grant's men to challenge for promotion next season after two mid-table years.
He said: “I'll put my head on the block here and say that we'll be one of the teams in the top six next year. What I see in the individual players is exceptional. They've just not been playing to the best of their ability.
“I think we've got the makings of a very good side who can become top six, coupled with the fact that the manager will buy players in the summer, which can only add to the squad. He's establishing himself as a manager and as a character and stamping his authority and personality on the side and I honestly believe we've got a fantastic squad. Darren Huckerby is on top of his form. If everyone is on top of his game, as well as Darren and Robert Earnshaw, when he plays, we'll be force to be reckoned with.”