sport

Hughton wary of resurgent Saints

Chris Hughton knows Norwich will have to use all of their new-found resilience to extend a seven-game unbeaten run at rejuvenated Southampton.

The Canaries have been reborn since the October international break, with victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.

Norwich head to St Mary's on the back of a battling 1-1 draw at Everton, secured by a last-minute goal from Sebastien Bassong.

However, the Saints have also found form in recent weeks, beating Newcastle to record a second successive victory which lifted them out of the bottom three and to within four points of Norwich, who are 13th.

"Southampton are a team playing well at the moment, they are at home, and we will need to give a good account of ourselves to get something," Hughton told Canaries Player

"It is about going into our game the way we have of late, showing our confidence, and trying to nullify the quality that they have got, but also play our own game."

Hughton added: "At home they create a wonderful atmosphere and are a team playing with a lot of confidence.

"They are on the back of a good win at Queens Park Rangers, and I think they took that into the game against Newcastle, so it will be a tough one."

Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy is a major doubt for the trip to the south coast, having been substituted late on against Everton because of a thigh problem.

While England international Ruddy has proved his side's saviour more than once during their recent upturn in fortunes, Hughton has every confidence Mark Bunn, signed from Blackburn in August, will prove an able deputy if needed.

"We would have no worries at all about bringing in Mark," Hughton told reporters.

"When we brought him in originally that was the exact reason, because of his experience, which allows the two youngsters we have here to go out and get some games.

"Whether John plays really depends on the scan. He is reasonably sore at the moment. We certainly wouldn't want to rule anything out until we know for definite. There is a doubt, but we haven't given up any hope."

Norwich will definitely be without centre-back Michael Turner because of a shoulder problem, although versatile defender Russell Martin is fit again following his back injury.

England Under-21 international Ryan Bennett turned in a solid display alongside Bassong at Everton.

The former Peterborough defender knows all about the threat posed by Saints frontman Rickie Lambert.

"I played against him a couple of times in the Championship. He is a good player and I hope we can stop him," Bennett said.

"Southampton have started to pick their performances up and we know it will be a tough game.

"They have good quality in their side, which is no different to any side in this league.

"We will have a plan, and will go out there and give it our best performance. I am sure if we play well, then we definitely have what it takes to win."

Tomorrow, meanwhile, sees the return of Mark Clattenburg to refereeing following the dismissal of allegations he racially abused Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel.

The 37-year-old was the fourth official in Tottenham's win over West Ham, but Wednesday night's game will mark a month since he was in charge.

Hughton said: "I think everybody in the game is delighted to see him back. Mark is someone who I have met on a few occasions and he has a real passion for what he does.

"He is an excellent referee and is back doing what he does best."