Hughton seeks Abu Dhabi boost

  • Last Updated: February 10 2013, 13:27 GMT

Norwich manager Chris Hughton hopes a warm-weather training break will help kickstart his side's Barclays Premier League campaign.

Chris Hughton: Flying the Canaries to Abu Dhabi
Chris Hughton: Flying the Canaries to Abu Dhabi

The Canaries laboured through a goalless home draw against Fulham on Saturday, which extended their unbeaten run to three league games but meant Hughton's side have now scored just once in the last six outings.

After their FA Cup run was halted by a shock 1-0 home defeat to non-league Luton, Norwich must wait a fortnight before they are back in action against Everton at Carrow Road.

Hughton intends to make the most of the club's four-day trip to Abu Dhabi.

"It has been difficult for us because Norfolk has been hit a bit heavier than most with the weather, when we have had quite a few days where we have struggled to get them onto the training pitch," he said.

"So we are looking forward to a good few days training on some decent surfaces."

The Norwich boss accepts there will be plenty to work on, most notably how to turn spells of possession into goalscoring opportunities.

"We have had periods of playing good attacking football and being solid at the back, as well as being open," said Hughton, who had guided his team to a superb 11-match unbeaten league run through from mid-October until just before Christmas.

"At the moment, we are certainly looking more solid as a team, but probably just lacking the flare qualities in that final third."

Norwich were forced to do without captain Grant Holt yesterday after the striker suffered a freak back spasm on the morning of the match.

Hughton handed a home debut to deadline-day signing Luciano Becchio, who worked hard in the lone-forward role, but had few clear openings after scuffing an early shot straight at Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The Norwich manager, though, has every confidence that the Argentinian forward will put the ball in the back of the net sooner rather than later - if his team can find the right supply line.

"Becchio is a strong player and good in the air, someone who relies on the service," Hughton said. "If he gets that in and around the box, he can score goals."

Norwich also brought in Sierra Leone forward Kei Kamara during the January window, with international clearance on a loan move from the Major Soccer League having come through early last week.

While Hughton accepts it will take the 28-year-old some time to work on his match fitness, the signs are positive following an energetic late cameo role against Fulham.

"For us it is about getting Kamara up to speed, but I liked what I saw and he certainly will give us a different dimension," the Norwich manager said.

Neither side really found a decisive pass in or around the penalty area yesterday, with midfielder Bradley Johnson stabbing what proved Norwich's best second-half opening wide from 15 yards.

Fulham rarely troubled home goalkeeper Mark Bunn, with a save from Steve Sidwell's 25-yard strike on 48 minutes about the closest the visitors came to breaking the deadlock.

Cottagers manager Martin Jol admitted it had been a difficult build-up to the match, with Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz arriving late back from international duty, while Bulgaria defender Stanislav Manolev, signed on loan from PSV Eindhoven, had to travel up to Norwich from London yesterday morning.

Fulham also had to deal with a sickness bug which saw defenders Sascha Riether and Chris Baird sent home, while Manolev and Emmanuel Frimpong - on loan from Arsenal - made debuts following their recent transfers.

Jol hopes his squad can make good use of their own mini break from league action.

"It was the first time he (Frimpong) had to play with Sidwell so that was not ideal, but we still looked okay," the Fulham manager said.

"Hopefully in the next two weeks we can do a lot on the training pitch with our new players."


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