Norwich boss shores up defence ahead of QPR visit

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As QPR fans sat through 90 minutes of torture against Swansea City on Saturday, supporters of Norwich City were suffering a similar fate a stone’s throw across west London.

City were woeful in their 5-0 crushing by Fulham at Craven Cottage, a result which could have been worse were it not for keeper John Ruddy’s impressive display.

The notorious ‘second season syndrome’ is not an issue for QPR, whose first season back in the Premier League was a largely forgettable one, but it most certainly is for the Canaries, for whom a 12th-place finish last year was a significant over-achievement.

That impressive campaign came under Paul Lambert, who guided the side to two successive promotions in the preceeding seasons, but whose good work at Carrow Road earned him a move to Aston Villa.

Lambert’s replacement, Chris Hughton, comes with a glowing reputation, and pulled off an immediate master-stroke by convincing striker and captain Grant Holt to sign a new contract.

Holt, who top-scored for Norwich with 17 goals last season, handed in a transfer request in May, but his sudden turnaround is a huge boost for Hughton. At 31 years old, he will lead the line once again this season.

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However, the manager has problems to address elsewhere, the biggest of which comes in the form of a decidely shaky defence which conceded 66 goals last season. Hughton this week acted to solve that problem by signing centre-bacl Sebastien Bassong.

City are unlikely to splash any further significant cash before the transfer window closes on August 31, having adopted a frugal approach this summer. They have made one more defensive addition; Michael Turner from Sunderland for �1.7 million. At the other end of the pitch, Robert Snodgress has been snapped up from Leeds United for just under �3m.

Midfielder Jacob Butterfield and right-back Steven Whittaker arrived on free transfers from Barnsley and Glasgow Rangers, but Hughton has resisted the urge to implement wholesale changes.

Both sides will be desperate to get their seasons up and running after opening defeats. With two shakey defences goals look a certainty, and honours even.

Prediction: Norwich City 1 QPR 1

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