Unlucky Hughes is willing and able

David Cuffley Midfielder Stephen Hughes may well be the unluckiest player in Norwich City's promotion-chasing squad - but is certain he still has a role to play in their League One title challenge.

David Cuffley

Midfielder Stephen Hughes may well be the unluckiest player in Norwich City's promotion-chasing squad - but is certain he still has a role to play in their League One title challenge.

The Canaries went into today's home game against Hartlepool defending an unbeaten run of 15 league matches, but the Scotland international has started just two of those games, the 3-0 win at Southend and the 2-0 Boxing Day home victory over Millwall.

Hughes' value to the squad was underlined at Walsall on Tuesday night, however, when he was a 16th-minute replacement for the injured Adam Drury.


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And he believes manager Paul Lambert will need all his players to contribute over the next three months as City bid to regain Championship status.

He said: “There are a few of us in this position. It's such a big squad, but the team keeps winning, that's the most important thing. As long as you're winning, everybody like myself, who's bursting to play, just needs to be patient.

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“But there are a lot of games to go so I'm sure the squad will be used, like it has been the last couple of weeks and throughout the season.

“The players in the team have been exceptional and what the manager wants is people to come back in and carry on the winning run.

“It's a team game and that's what everybody is here for. They're just ready to step in if asked. We've got cover for most positions and there are a lot of people vying for places.

“There is nothing you can do. You just need to keep training hard and when you get a chance, take it. Everybody wants to play. It's just about getting that chance.”

The 27-year-old has made some important contributions from the bench, notably his equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Southampton and a polished second-half display in the 3-0 win over Huddersfield.

And he popped up with an important goalline clearance from Clayton McDonald at Walsall when City were trailing 1-0.

“It was nice to get back on the pitch again and feature but most importantly we got the win, that's what matters,” said Hughes.

Today's visitors, Hartlepool, were on the receiving end as Hughes scored his first City goal in the 2-0 victory at Victoria Park in August.

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