Hughes here and there
CHRIS WISE Andy Hughes received a big pat on the back from his manager after playing in three positions for the Canaries in the space of just two games.
Andy Hughes received a big pat on the back from his manager yesterday after playing in three positions for the Canaries in the space of just two games.
The summer signing from Reading showed his versatility by switching from central midfield to left-back during City's recent defeat at Burnley - and then popped on the right-wing in last Saturday's hard-fought victory over Leicester at Carrow Road.
Hughes' efforts this season haven't always been appreciated by the supporters. But there is absolutely no doubt that he has been prepared to muck in for the Canary cause since his summer move from Reading - and Nigel Worthington is delighted to have such a solid professional in his squad.
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“Andy is the type of player who is happy to play wherever he is asked,” said the City boss. “Every manager needs those type of individuals in his squad. Since he has been here he has played at right-back, left-back, right midfield and centre midfield and he also played wide left for Reading. Speak to Steve Coppell now and he will give Andy rave reviews.
“It is handy from the squad point of view when you are not flushed with numbers, shall we say. You can slot him into a variety of positions to help the cause, although you obviously wouldn't want to mess the lad around too much.
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“It can also help shape your bench if you have got versatile players out on the pitch. It sometimes means you can get an extra attacker on there, and that can only be a good thing.”
Hughes could again find himself filling in on the right flank against at Preston tomorrow as Paul McVeigh is still not fit to return. The little Irishman has been unable to shrug off the back injury he sustained during the 2-1 victory over Sheffield United last month and while he is making progress his manager is unwilling to predict when he might be fit to return.
“He has got no chance for Saturday - that is what I can say,” Worthington explained. “He is not even back in training yet. He is doing bits and bobs in rehab but he's not back with the group.
“It is difficult to put a time-scale on it - it's a case of how he reacts to each piece of work he does.”
If Worthington goes with a 4-4-2 shape at Deepdale then Hughes will almost certainly hold off the challenge of Jonatan Johansson to play on the right. If the manager decides on a 4-5-1 formation for the third away game in succession then he will form part of a three-man engine room which could yet include former Preston man Dickson Etuhu.
The muscular midfielder hasn't featured in the Norwich first team since a brief substitute's appearance against Stoke more than a month ago and hasn't started a game since the derby defeat at the hands of Ipswich on February 5.
He is fit and raring to go, and would obviously relish an opportunity to play at the ground where he spent four largely successful years. Whether he gets it remains to be seen, but the player is clearly in Worthington's thoughts.
“There's a chance Dickson could feature - he will certainly be in the 16,” he said.
“He has settled in very well and has been working very hard. He is champing a bit to have a go. He has got to be patient and his opportunity will come.
“Other players have been doing well and it's a case of making sure that when he gets the opportunity he is ready to take it.
“The fact that the game is against his former side doesn't make any difference as far the decision making is confirmed - it's what's right for the team.”
One man who certainly won't be featuring in this or any other game this season is right-back Matthieu Louis-Jean who has now been officially ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
The French defender, who joined the Canaries in a summer swap deal that saw Gary Holt move to Nottingham Forest, picked up a serious hamstring injury after making just two appearances for his new club - and if all goes to plan his next appearance will now be in the opening friendly of the summer against Fakenham Town on July 12.
“Matthieu won't feature this season,” said Worthington. “His target now is to be ready for the start of pre-season training. That is our aim - and our hope.”