Hughton won't rush Ruddy back

  • Last Updated: April 11 2013, 17:30 BST

Norwich manager Chris Hughton will take no chances on the fitness of England goalkeeper John Ruddy as he nears a first-team return.

John Ruddy: Nearing return for Norwich

The 26-year-old has not featured for the Canaries since the draw at Everton on November 24 after needing surgery on a torn muscle in his thigh.

After completing 90 minutes of Norwich's 2-0 Barclays Under-21 Development League defeat at Newcastle on Monday night, Ruddy is expected to soon be back in contention over the end-of-season run-in.

Hughton, though, is determined not to rush the keeper - who returned five clean sheets before his injury - back too soon.

"The plan is for John to be involved in another game on Monday, then we will have to take it from there," said Hughton, who revealed deputy Mark Bunn could yet be fit to face Arsenal on Saturday.

"The injury is fine, there has been no re-occurrence.

"We will play another (development) game next week, then assess it from there, but it is certainly good to have him back on the training pitch and around things.

"Hughton added: "This weekend is too soon because we have to be conscious John has been out for a long time.

"For as much as it is good to have him back training, this is one of our last six games.

"Whatever games we will have John available for is a real plus and a bonus, so we need to make sure we do it right."

Bunn had been forced off early during last weekend's 2-2 draw with Swansea at Carrow Road after he picked up a groin problem on his first match back following suspension.

However, Hughton hopes the prognosis on Bunn may be positive, meaning third-choice Lee Camp would not be thrown into action against the Gunners, who are chasing a place back in the top four.

"We thought at the time it was a groin strain but it has not turned out to be, so that is good news," said Hughton.

"We will assess it tomorrow and make sure we make the right decision, because we have a season to finish off.

"If we were clear on it then we would be ruling him out, but at this moment we are not."

Norwich head to the Emirates Stadium in 14th place but just four points above Wigan, who have a match in hand.

While the Canaries are not expected to pull off another shock win over Arsenal, as they did back in Norfolk on October 20 which kick-started an unbeaten run of 10 league games, Hughton maintains it is not time to hit the panic button as his side look to edge over the fabled 40-points barrier.

"We are aware of where we are in the league but it is not a time for being nervous, it is a time to be positive and look forwards to the challenge of the games we have left," said Hughton, whose side have key matches against Reading, Stoke and Aston Villa next on their fixture list after the trip to north London.

"There are 18 points to fight for and the matches will come around quickly.

"We will go into each one looking at the opportunity to get maximum points and that is how you have to look at it."

Hughton added: "It will be a big challenge, no matter what stage of the season.

"Norwich going to the Emirates Stadium as underdogs is normal, but there will not be one player in the squad who will not want to be involved.

"It is going to be a tough one because Arsenal are in good form, but we have to make sure we compete to give ourselves the best possible chance, going there with no fear and an opportunity to get something from the game."

Norwich expect to have midfielders Alexander Tettey (knee) and Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) available again following their injury lay-offs.

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