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Hughton on guard against Chopra
Published : 12 Sep 2009 14:23:42
Hughton, in temporary charge on Tyneside for the third time, has guided Newcastle to the top of the Championship after racking up four wins and a draw from their opening five games. That impressive run has been built on a solid defensive line-up which has not shipped a goal in the last 406 minutes of league action. But that record will come under threat at third-placed Cardiff - where Hughton's men will be up against the division's top goalscorer, Newcastle-born Michael Chopra who has already hit seven goals for the Bluebirds this season. Chopra will no doubt feel he has a point to prove against the club he left three years ago, having failed to establish himself in the first team, and Hughton believes his players will have to dig deep to keep their enviable defensive record intact. "We are going to have to make sure as a team we restrict the opportunities he has, but he is certainly a player in form at the moment," Hughton said of Chopra. "As an offensive unit, they have shown the quality they have this season, and I have no doubts we will have to defend well. "We go into every game looking to win. We are realistic enough to know also that any type of 'result' at Cardiff is a good result. "But certainly, we will prepare the team in the best way we can - and as always, we will look to come away with a good result." Newcastle's haul of 13 points from a possible 15 marks their best start to a league campaign since their mid-1990s heyday, and Hughton is delighted with the strides the team have made against the background of their well-documented off-field difficulties. Their progress is underscored by the fact that another clean sheet tomorrow will make it over seven hours since they let in a league goal - the last being Shelton Martis' strike for West Brom on the opening weekend of the season. "We are delighted, and the accolades go to the whole of the side," Hughton added. "What we have managed to do is be solid enough as a unit, and have our moments of quality when we have been able to score goals. "At the moment, it's worked very well for us. But certainly what we have done is defend very well as a unit - and we will have to again on Sunday." Newcastle moved to the head of the standings at the expense of Cardiff after Dave Jones' side suffered a 2-0 reverse at Doncaster before the international break - and Cardiff defender Anthony Gerrard, a summer arrival from Walsall, has vowed the team will come back stronger this weekend. "Doncaster was very disappointing for us, but we aim to put things right on Sunday," Gerrard told the club's official website. "Newcastle is still a massive club, despite dropping from the Premier League last season; everybody wants to play in this game and test ourselves against one of the best sides in the division. "We hope we'll take the three points we're looking for; if we play to our potential then I think we can do that."