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Premier League Preview: Norwich City v Sunderland

20 March 2014 15:34

Chris Hughton was targeted by Norwich City fans last weekend but he will expect their backing for Saturday's crunch clash with Sunderland.

The struggling Premier League club slumped to a sixth consecutive away defeat in the top flight when they were beaten 4-2 by Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday.

Norwich fans openly questioned manager Hughton when he made a triple substitution during the second half as his side's winless run on the road extended to eight matches.

That defeat leaves them just four points above the relegation zone, and Saturday's opponents Sunderland, but Gus Poyet's men have three matches in hand.

Hughton said he could understand fans' frustrations at Southampton and he will be eager to avoid their ire again by masterminding a much-needed win this time around.

The former Newcastle United boss will take confidence in his club's home record, which has seen them unbeaten at Carrow Road in 2014.

A six-match run in all competitions has seen them win twice and draw four and they have just conceded just two goals during that streak.

Hughton defended his team selection against Southampton after he made five changes to the side that drew1-1 against Stoke City earlier this month, with record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel and captain Sebastian Bassong dropping to the bench.

He is likely to make changes again, but the game is expected to come too soon for Michael Turner (hamstring), Jonas Gutierrez (calf) and Elliott Bennett (knee).

Centre-back Turner has been sidelined since New Year's day, while midfielder Gutierrez has played just twice since his loan move from Newcastle, but the duo came through 45 minutes of the Under-21s' victory against Charlton Athletic on Tuesday as they close in on a first-team return.

Winger Bennett has not played since August but returned to training this week, while Leroy Fer (hamstring) will remain sidelined for at a few more weeks.

Poyet insisted he was remaining calm after watching his side drop points in a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Saturday.

But the Uruguayan will have plenty of cause for concern if his Sunderland side fail to win for a fourth consecutive league match.

Sunderland's last Premier League win came at arch-rivals Newcastle United, but their 3-0 success was back on February 1 and they have scored just once in their three league matches since then.

The visitors have also suffered a League Cup final defeat to Manchester City and an FA Cup quarter-final loss to Hull City since that emphatic win against Alan Pardew's men, so they could do with stopping the rot this weekend.

Poyet will be unable to call upon goalkeeper Keiren Westwood once again.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
14 0 +0 0
15 0 +0 0
16 0 +0 0
17 0 +0 0
18 0 +0 0

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