Hughton: Norwich will keep focus
Manager Chris Hughton does not envisage having any problem keeping Norwich grounded after a 2-1 win over Wigan extended their unbeaten run to 10 Barclays Premier League games.
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The Canaries bounced back from their midweek Carling Cup exit at the hands of Aston Villa, and former boss Paul Lambert, to record a fifth straight home league victory with goals from Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan, who has just signed a new contract extension.
It has been an amazing turnaround in form for Hughton's side, who looked set for a long battle against relegation when they lost 4-1 at Chelsea before the October international break which was a fourth defeat from their opening seven games.
Despite being now remarkably within striking distance of the top four, Hughton insists the hard work must continue if Norwich are to avoid being dragged back down into the relegation battle.
"For me, it is very easy, I know where we are as a football club and what other teams have, with their budgets," said former Newcastle and Birmingham manager Hughton, who was appointed in the summer.
"There are those clubs who are able to spend big money on what they can, while we are showing great quality in a workmanlike side.
"They are a very down to earth, level-headed group, but we have to work very hard for everything we get.
"If we fall away from that, then we have every chance of getting beaten, so we will certainly not be getting carried away.
"We know how we have to compete in every game, and if that is the case then we have a chance of doing okay, but we never come away from the reality of what we are."
Norwich produced a strong start yesterday against a Wigan side hit by injuries to key men.
Pilkington swept the hosts in front on 15 minutes when he blasted past Ali Al Habsi after a determined run from Hoolahan to the edge of the Wigan penalty area.
But for the efforts of the busy Latics keeper, Norwich would have been further ahead before half-time, with Robert Snodgrass seeing his point-blank header somehow clawed away.
However, Wigan regrouped following the restart and it was no surprise when substitute Shaun Maloney fired them level.
For a spell, Norwich were on the back foot, but weathered the storm and regained their lead just after the hour when this time Pilkington turned provider to float over a cross from the left which Hoolahan nodded home.
Hughton has nothing but praise for the 30-year-old Republic of Ireland playmaker, whose new deal runs until 2015.
"The only way you can earn contracts is by performing, and performing well enough. Wes has certainly done that," said Hughton.
"I am probably more pleased for him, because it was never a question of his future here, it has all been about getting a longer deal and we are delighted with that."
Norwich will assess captain Grant Holt who went off late on as a precaution with a tight hamstring, but Wigan's injury crisis deepened further.
Midfielder James McCarthy is facing a spell on the sidelines after being left with an ankle problem following what manager Roberto Martinez branded a "nasty challenge" from Bradley Johnson.
Full-back Adrian Lopez also limped off with a suspected hamstring problem.
Martinez admits having so many of his first-team regulars sidelined makes their quest to move away from trouble even tougher.
"In football you need to cope with injuries and suspensions, but we have four senior centre-halves out injured, and that showed against Norwich with the two soft goals we conceded," he said.
"When you have one or two players missing, it is not an excuse, but when you are talking about facing games at this level with eight players missing, it becomes tough on the players.
"However, we cannot just look like a team without desire and at least we showed that in the second half, so that will set us up nicely for the next game against Arsenal at home."