Hughton focused on Canaries
Published 19/12/2013 | 17:16
Norwich manager Chris Hughton warned his side they must be ready to bring Capital One Cup semi-finalists Sunderland back down to earth when they travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend.
The Black Cats pulled off a shock win over Chelsea on Wednesday night through an extra-time strike from Ki Sung-Yueng which secured a two-legged play-off with Manchester United in January for a place at Wembley, and manager Gus Poyet hopes the result will now help inspire their battle to stay up in 2014.
Hughton takes his side to Wearside on the back of an impressive away win at West Brom and a battling draw against Swansea, and will be looking to continue their own steady drive up the table with another positive result over the Barclays Premier League's bottom club.
"It will be as big a challenge as any other game we will play in this division," said Hughton, who is set to have both Holland forward Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass back from injury for the trip to the north-east.
"Sunderland are on the back of a very good win, albeit not in the league, so they will be buoyed by that - but that is them.
"We are also in good form ourselves, on the back of a very good away win at West Brom and a good performance against Swansea, so will be looking for that to continue.
"We have gone through a spell of late where we have shown some confidence in front of goal.
"Gus Poyet is the Sunderland manager and has to do everything he can to make sure his team get the result, but I am the manager here at Norwich and my concerns and thoughts are only to focus on our own team and getting the result we want to get."
Key to that will again be the performance of forward Gary Hooper, who cracked home a fourth goal in six games with a superb 30-yard strike to equalise against Swansea at Carrow Road on Sunday, and then almost secured all three points with a late close-range effort which was turned away brilliantly by Swansea keeper Michel Vorm.
Hughton is hoping the £5million summer signing from Celtic can continue to impress following his recovery from a shin problem.
"We have been delighted with his overall performance and hard work which he has given the team as we have been with his goals," said Hughton.
"It took him a little while to settle with the injury he had earlier in the season, but at the moment he is in really good form.
"If we are able to provide him with the service, he has that type of quality that we know he can score goals."
Norwich host Fulham on Boxing Day and after the visit of a rejuvenated Manchester United to Carrow Road, will travel to Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.
United apart, it is conceivably a run of matches which could see the Canaries put clear daylight between themselves and the relegation scrap.
Hughton, though, is not looking to far ahead.
"I don't think you can with the amount of games that you have," he said.
"Any thoughts of who else we have to play after Sunderland can wait.
"You can't plan for Fulham and Manchester United when you don't know what could happen against Sunderland.
"You are never sure how form and injuries affect it. What you do know is it is a lot of games in a short period and recovery will be key."