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Premier League

  • March 22, 2014
  • • 11:00 AM
  • • Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 26654

Premier League Preview: Norwich City - Sunderland

Premier League Preview: Norwich City - Sunderland

The two sides are separated by just four points in the Premier League heading into the meeting at Carrow Road, but Gus Poyet's outfit has played three games less than the Canaries.

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 it was beaten 4-2 by Southampton at St Mary's 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 the team just four points above the relegation zone, and Saturday's opponent 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 the club unbeaten at Carrow Road in 2014.

A six-game run in all competitions has seen them win twice, draw four times and concede just two goals during that streak.

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

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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].

Center 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 struggler Crystal Palace on Saturday.

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

Sunderland's last Premier League win came at arch-rival Newcastle United, but the 3-0 success was back on February 1 and the club has scored just once in three league outings since.

The visitors have also suffered a Capital One Cup final defeat to Manchester City and an FA Cup quarterfinal loss to Hull City since that emphatic win against Alan Pardew's men.

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

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