Hughes hopes for rare start for Canaries

David Cuffley Midfielder Stephen Hughes is eager to make his own contribution to Norwich City's promotion run-in as the League One season enters its last full month. The Canaries can take another big step towards a return to Championship football if they chalk up their 11th away win of the campaign in tonight's televised match against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

David Cuffley

Midfielder Stephen Hughes is eager to make his own contribution to Norwich City's promotion run-in as the League One season enters its last full month.

The Canaries can take another big step towards a return to Championship football if they chalk up their 11th away win of the campaign in tonight's televised match against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park (7.45pm).

And Hughes, who marked his five-minute appearance against Leeds last Saturday by supplying the perfect cross for fellow substitute Chris Martin's winning goal, could win a recall to the starting line-up if 19-year-old Korey Smith fails to recover from a thigh injury.


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The 27-year-old Scot has, by his own admission, been frustrated by a lack of regular first team football since his summer move from Motherwell.

Hughes has started just eight League One games - including Paul Lambert's first four in charge - and has been kept on the sidelines by injuries and more especially the form of Smith.

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But Hughes, who last started a senior match at home to Southend more than five weeks ago, fully understands the manager's philosophy.

He said: “I'm frustrated, like everybody else who's not playing, but at the end of the day it is a team game and everybody over the course of the season has played his part at some point.

“The starting eleven that have been playing most weeks have been performing consistently well, so the people like myself on the sidelines just have to be patient.

“It's frustrating but you just need to wait for your chance and hopefully it comes sooner or later.

“Whatever team the gaffer puts out, everybody gets behind the boys to win. It's good to still be involved but every player wants to play as much as he can.

“If I get a chance tonight it's down to me to try to take it but we need to wait and see. There are a lot of ifs and buts but I'm ready and willing to go.”

Lambert has consistently stressed the importance of the whole squad contributing to the team's success.

“He's been fair with everybody,” said Hughes. “If you've come in and performed well and the team's winning, yes, the gaffer usually sticks by you, which is good.

“There are good quality players who can't even get on the bench so everybody's fighting to get into that first eleven. I think that's what keeps whoever's in that starting eleven on their toes.

“The quality we've got through the squad shows.

“It's a long season and if you look throughout the season the squad has been used quite a lot. Everybody has to play their part, that's what we're here to do and I'm just delighted that we got the win last week.

“I was happy to come on and contribute to the goal but most importantly, the three points.

“I knew it was a chance, I just saw Chrissy Martin make a run and thankfully he did the rest - he did the hard part. He put it in the back of the net so that was vital for us.”

Hughes scored in City's first away win of the league season at Hartlepool back in August, but admitted promotion was not high in anyone's thoughts at the time.

He said: “When the season starts, you don't look that far ahead, but we're in great position. We've not won anything yet, we just need to keep going, keep our heads down and keep trying to win games.

“It's not wrapped up until it's mathematically certain. We've got a busy weekend ahead of us and a couple of massive games.

“We look forward to the game tonight first and foremost. Tranmere will be a difficult game because they're fighting for their lives.

“Everybody is playing for something just now so, whether it's fighting relegation, going into the play-offs or whatnot, so it will be a difficult game but we'll go up there with confidence.”

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