Chris Hughton has confidence in Norwich squad as Grant Holt signs new deal


Chris Hughton is confident he is assembling a Norwich squad capable of competing in the Barclays Premier League again next season after seeing captain Grant Holt agree a new, three-year deal.

Following his appointment as Paul Lambert's successor at Carrow Road, Hughton had always maintained he wanted to retain the services of Norwich's talisman, who was voted the fans' player of the year in each season since signing from Shrewsbury, but earlier this summer handed in a shock transfer request.

The new Norwich boss has been quick to tie up key men on improved deals, with goalkeeper John Ruddy joining versatile Scotland defender Russell Martin and midfielder Andrew Surman in penning fresh terms.

The Norfolk club also yesterday afternoon confirmed the arrival of former England Under-21 international Jacob Butterfield from Barnsley, after last week signing Scotland defender Steven Whittaker, a free agent following his departure from Rangers.

Former Newcastle boss Hughton, who left Birmingham for another crack at the Premier League, knows just a test it will be next season as the Canaries look to build on a 12th-placed finish under Lambert.

"It is about making sure we have a squad and a team which is good enough to continue to compete," said Hughton.

"This is an unforgiving division and you can soon be on the end of a series of poor results.

"I am still assessing what we already have, but will have no fear of bringing in players to make sure we have the quality to continue to compete and have the competition in the squad which we need."

Norwich's prospects will certainly be boosted by the retention of Holt, 31, who scored 15 goals to help keep the Canaries up last season.

Holt, though, had wanted the security of an extra 12-month extension, which put him at loggerheads with chief executive David McNally and raised interest from newly-promoted West Ham, who were said to have offered up to £6million.

However, following the appointment of Hughton, an amicable agreement was reached and Holt is now focused on spearheading the Canaries' forthcoming campaign.

"I never wanted to leave the club, but things happen and there has been a lot of speculation and things have been taken out of context," he said.

"My ambition was to get the three years. I have got a wife and a family who are settled in the area and I wanted to secure that.

"I have done that now, have agreed the deal and I am happy.

"My intention was to see my career out and I hope that will be the case."

Hughton praised all parties for resolving any differences.

"I knew what Grant meant to this football club. It was quite obvious it was going to be big news and, of course, it was one that rumbled on for a while," he said.

"But having spoken to Grant, his intentions and his preference were to be here. Certainly the club have gone about their business in the right way."

Meanwhile, it is understood Lambert's backroom staff of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa are to follow him to Villa Park rather than form part of an extended set-up under Hughton.