Sport Soccer

Friday 19 September 2014

Hughton keen on keeping Hoolahan

Published 09/01/2014 | 16:32

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Norwich boss Chris Hughton, pictured, insists Wes Hoolahan is a key part of the squad

Wes Hoolahan remains very much an important part of the Norwich squad, according to manager Chris Hughton.

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The Irish playmaker has been linked with a move away from Carrow Road during the January, with reports of a £750,000 bid by Aston Villa, managed by former Canaries boss Paul Lambert.

Norwich chief executive David McNally issued a statement on Thursday to clarify there had been no formal transfer request from any player, with the Norfolk club looking to strengthen in a bid to climb the Barclays Premier League table.

Hughton took over from Lambert in the summer of 2012, and sanctioned a new deal for Hoolahan, who had helped spearhead Norwich's drive up from League One under the Scot.

And the Canaries manager has stressed the 31-year-old remains in his plans, having deployed him in his favoured role in behind lead frontman Gary Hooper in recent Premier League matches.

"Wes is a player who is first and foremost under contract. Apart from the recent FA Cup tie, he had played in the last two Premier League games," said Hughton.

"He is as important as every other player in this squad.

"What we are trying to achieve here is to be as good a team as we can in the best league position we can, for that to be the case, we want to have as strong a squad as we can.

"At this particular moment, Wes is very much a part of the squad."

Hughton added: "The chief executive made the statement possibly because of questions from our own supporters and the fact of what had been mentioned about transfer requests.

"It was something the club felt strongly about doing."

Norwich's England goalkeeper John Ruddy hopes Hoolahan will stay on at the club.

"I think Wes is a superb player. I have got a lot of time for Wes, I think he is a fantastic little man," said Ruddy.

"There is only one Wes Hoolahan, he is brilliant to have around the place as well, so I am desperate for him to stay here, and I am sure everyone else in that dressing room is as well."

Norwich have been linked with a move for out-of-favour Everton defender John Heitinga after a potential switch to West Ham fell through, while Manchester United's Wilfred Zaha and Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez are other possible targets.

Hughton, though, was giving little away at his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Everton.

"He (Heitinga) is one of a few names who have been associated with ourselves and other clubs - that is part of what we have to expect in the media and have to accept", Hughton said.

"It (Zaha) is probably a natural one because we have had some problems in midfield (with injuries), particularly out wide.

"As we go further into this window, the names will become more, not only for us, but for every club.

"The correct way for us is to tell you something which is fact because the majority of what you read is certainly not fact.

"What will always happen is there will always be enquiries, we will make some about certain players and clubs will make some about our players. That is a normal part of the game.

"The correct way and consistent way for us is to keep those as private conversations between the clubs, and that will always remain the same.

"When there is anything to say about anybody when it is appropriate, we will make the announcement."

Hughton added: "We are working hard, but if you look at how much business has been done in this window so far, it is an indication of how tough it is to make sure you make the right decisions."

Norwich head to Merseyside on Saturday looking to maintain safe distance between themselves and the bottom three.

Hoolahan, Bradley Johnson and captain Sebastien Bassong will all come back into contention having sat out last weekend's 1-1 FA Cup third-round draw against Fulham.

However, Hughton confirmed defender Michael Turner was set for a spell out with a hamstring strain, while midfielder Jonny Howson also remains sidelined by a niggling back problem.

Midfielders Alex Tettey and Anthony Pilkington have both now returned to light training following their own injury lay-offs.

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