Hughton wary of ‘big name’ Hatters

Big name Luton remain a real threat to Norwich City according to Canaries chief Chris Hughton - despite the fact the Hatters are now languishing in non-league football, writes Mark Wood.

Premier League Norwich may sit four divisions above the Hatters, but Hughton is wary of the challenge posed by the Town - especially after Bradford City’s exploits in the League Cup this week.

On how he will prepare against non-league opposition, he said: “You can only prepare the best way you can.

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“What we are up against is, although they are a Conference team, we see these as very much a League outfit.

“They are a big name, a team who have a very good history. They still get very good support and at that level they still have very good players and we are very conscious of what can happen.

“But it’s the same as when we played at Peterborough in the last round, albeit we were away from home and that was a lot tougher scenario, and on this occasion we’re at home.

“But that comes with the territory. We will be the favourites on the day, irrespective of the team we put out. There is always that possibility and that’s why you’ve seen some of the results we have in the last couple of days. That’s what cup football is all about and we have to be very guarded.”

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Hughton admitted he already had some prior knowledge of Town skipper Ronnie Henry and giant Hungarian centre-half Janos Kovacs, but that he and his staff are still researching the Hatters.

He said: “I know Ronnie Henry, the right-back, who was an apprentice at Tottenham when I was there. He is actually the grandson of a very famous left-back at Tottenham from the 1960 team, Ron Henry, who was actually my first coach when I went to Tottenham.

“I know the lad Kovacs, the centre-half, who used to be at Lincoln. So I know of the players but do I know them so well? No, I certainly know them better now than a few weeks ago and we will continue to watch as many videos as we can. But we’ve watched the Wolves game and they did well in that game. Whether they deserved to get through, it was a fairly even game, but they certainly did enough. It’ll be a tough game.

“Although they are out of the Football League, I think most people see them very much as a league team.”

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City look set to make a number of changes for the encounter with former Hatter Leon Barnett likely to start in the heart of their defence.

Midfielder Andrew Surman definitely plays as he starts his first match after a three-month lay-off due to a knee injury. Declan Rudd replaces Mark Bunn in goal, while full-back Steven Whittaker could be on the bench after five weeks out with a hip injury.

Keeper John Ruddy is out with a thigh injury, while striker Steve Morison (thigh) and Sebastien Bassong (calf) are also sidelined.

On what team he will be picking, Hughton said: “I will be making changes. But it will be a strong squad – I just need to determine which 11 will start.

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“But if I look at the 18 they will all be players who have been very much involved in the first team squad this season.”

And Hughton is looking forward to locking horns against his old friend, Town chief Paul Buckle.

He added: “We played together at Brentford and I have followed his career and we have met up quite often along the way and certainly kept in contact.

“He was always going to be involved in football. He was always very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable and it is no surprise to see his path go into management. Of course, apart from this Saturday, I wish him all the best.

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“I haven’t spoken to him since the draw was made but I know we’ll have a good chat before and after.

“He is a very good football person and I think he would have been delighted when the draw was made.

“As any manager you want the opportunity to play big games.”

Possible Norwich team (4-4-2): Declan Rudd, Russell Martin, Leon Barnett, Ryan Bennett, Marc Tierney, Elliott Bennett, David Fox, Jonathan Howson, Andrew Surman, Simeon Jackson, Harry Kane. Substitutes from: Jed Steer, Michael Turner, Javier Garrido, Steven Whittaker, Bradley Johnson, Alexander Tettey, Robert Snodgrass, Wesley Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington, Grant Holt.