Chris Hughton not considering letting Wes Hoolahan leave

Canaries chief executive backs manager after FA Cup exit to struggling Fulham

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton after his side’s defeat  to Fulham  in the FA Cup  third-round replay  at Craven Cottage. Photograph:  Clive Rose/Getty Images

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton after his side’s defeat to Fulham in the FA Cup third-round replay at Craven Cottage. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images


Wes Hoolahan will not leave Norwich this month, according to manager Chris Hughton. The 31-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder was the subject of a bid from Aston Villa, driven by former Canaries boss Paul Lambert.

Norwich’s board rejected the offer outright and have since refused to countenance the idea of Hoolahan leaving Carrow Road in the January transfer window. Now Hughton has confirmed he wants to keep the Republic of Ireland midfielder and is instead focused on bringing in reinforcements rather than seeing players leave.

When asked if Hoolahan could be sold this month, Hughton said: “At the moment our concentration is on can we add to the squad, can we improve the squad, not on letting players go out. We’ve had a few injuries especially in midfield, and then Michael Turner will be out for a while as well.

“We are trying as hard as we can (to sign players) the same as everybody else, but January is a notoriously bad time to bring in players. But they also have to be right for the club.”

Norwich slumped to a 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay defeat at Fulham on Tuesday, leaking goals from Darrent Bent, Ashkan Dejagah and Steve Sidwell. Hughton shrugged off the building pressure in light of the Canaries’ eighth consecutive match without a win. Shouldering responsibility on himself, the former Newcastle boss said this run is not the most testing of his Norwich tenure.

Norwich have already signed Jonas Gutierrez on loan from Newcastle this month, the Argentina winger linking back up with former boss Hughton. The Norwich manager now expects to have Alexander Tettey and Anthony Pilkington fit for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League clash at home to Hull.

“They have now trained this week and are very close to being back in the squad,” said Hughton. “They will be good additions back in, and on top of that we’ll keep working hard to see if we can make any more signings. Jonas will be a good addition for us, he knows the league very, very well, he’s played nigh on 200 games in this division.

“So he’ll be a bonus for us, and we’re working as hard as we can to address other possible additions.”

Hughton’s position also came under scrutiny last night after a 3-0 FA Cup third round defeat to Fulham but the manager is safe, for now, according to chief executive David McNally.

The Canaries are currently on a run of eight games without a win in all competitions. A number of the club’s supporters have started calling on the board to act, with Malky Mackay’s name sang by the travelling contingent at Craven Cottage.

The former Cardiff boss was a fan favourite during his time as a player at Carrow Road but Hughton was backed McNally, although he insists he will do anything he deems necessary to keep the club in the top flight.

“He [Hughton] is preparing the team for Saturday’s game,” McNally told BBC Radio Norfolk. “The brief to Chris was to keep us out of the bottom three, we are not in the bottom three and it is to keep us out of the bottom three so that is what we have to do. We would not contemplate relegation at our football club. In a sporting sense it [relegation] is worse than death.”

Norwich are currently 15th in the standings on 20 points, two clear of the bottom three.

“We are absolutely focused on ensuring that this great football club stays in the PL, too many people have worked too hard and for so long to put the club in the PL so we would do everything in our power to ensure that it not only stays in the league but thrives in the league,” added McNally.

“The brief for Chris when we were in the bottom three earlier in the season was to get us out and keep us out of the bottom three and move us up the table. There is no change there. If you don’t produce the results then ultimately that is how you will be measured.”

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