Norwich V Southampton at Carrow Road : Match Preview
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Hughton: Ruddy ready to push Hart
Norwich manager Chris Hughton believes goalkeeper John Ruddy is ready to put pressure on England's number one Joe Hart when the vital World Cup qualifiers get under way next week.
Ruddy was selected in Roy Hodgson's squad for the matches against Moldova next Friday and Ukraine the following Tuesday, along with Hart and Celtic's uncapped Fraser Forster.
Hodgson has backed Hart despite the goalkeeper being blamed for his part in Manchester City's shock 3-2 defeat by Cardiff on Sunday and being at fault for the first goal as England beat Scotland 3-2 earlier this month.
Hughton, however, insists Ruddy, who missed a large chunk of last season when he underwent an operation on a thigh injury, is in the sort of form to put real pressure on Hart.
Hughton said: "Any player that goes on international duty is there on merit and to challenge and to play.
"If I look at the progress he (Ruddy) has made over the last few seasons he has the capabilities to really push for a place.
"It's early in the season but if I look at the reaction from a disappointing season for him last season, at least the last two thirds of the season with the injury, he has made a full recovery from that and at the moment is back to where he was before the injury.
"I think he has done well and has put himself in position to put pressure on the position. And that's how it should be. Anyone who is involved in an international squad should be there on merit and feel they can put real competition on that position.
"He's a big personality, a big frame, and his performances for us over the last few seasons have very much warranted him being in that international squad."
Ruddy faces Southampton at Carrow Road this Saturday with Norwich on just one point, having drawn against Everton and lost to a 'soft' penalty against promoted Hull last week.
Norwich defender Ryan Bennett could miss Saturday's match after needing stitches in a gashed left knee sustained in the 6-3 Capital One Cup victory against Bury in midweek.
Hughton rates his chances as "touch and go", while striker Gary Hooper is still out with a shin problem but should be fit for the Tottenham game following the international break. Midfielder Elliott Bennett is recovering from surgery on a cruciate ligament injury.
Southampton duo Guly do Prado and Jos Hooiveld will be assessed.
Both missed Tuesday's Capital One Cup second-round win at Barnsley through illness and could be absent again at Carrow Road.
James Ward-Prowse this week became the latest Southampton player to be recognised by England, but for now the teenage midfielder only has club matters on his mind.
Saints have spent upwards of B#30million this summer bringing in new talent, although the most impressive player so far has been academy graduate Ward-Prowse.
The midfielder has shone in Saints' opening Premier League matches, in which he was joined by fellow 18-year-olds Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers in the starting line-ups.
The latter will join up with England Under-19s and team-mate Rickie Lambert will be with the seniors over the upcoming international break, while Shaw and Ward-Prowse will be hoping to make their debuts for the Under-21s.
"It's the next step on the international ladder, and it's one away from the first team," the midfielder, who was part of the Under-20s World Cup squad in the summer, said.
"You've seen the likes of Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend do it, so it's in the back of my mind that - if I can carry on my good form - hopefully I can push my way in there.
"To be called up for the Under-21s at my age is a real achievement for me, so I'm happy with that.
"I'll just concentrate on myself and the club, and I will be recognised if I'm doing well. I'll meet up with the team, try to impress the manager and take it from there."
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