1. ITV Report

Norwich City manager challenges Gary Hooper to force his way into England reckoning

Norwich City's Gary Hooper has been in the goals lately. Photo: PA

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton has challenged free-scoring striker Gary Hooper to continue his fine form in the Premier League in order to force his way into contention for England's World Cup squad.

The 25-year-old has hit four goals in his last six appearances for the Canaries, including a breathtaking long-range equaliser against Swansea City last weekend.

Swansea City's Michel Vorm is powerless to stop Hooper's unstoppable strike. Credit: PA

The purple patch has inevitably raised talked of a late World Cup bid, and Hughton has backed the frontman to give England boss Roy Hodgson a selection headache in the coming months.

"There are some very good ingredients there.

He is English, he is a striker, and of course he is scoring goals for us at the moment.

Anything that comes from that would be a bonus for him, but it's important that he continues doing what he's doing for us."

– Chris Hughton, Norwich City Manager

This weekend's trip to Sunderland could represent the first opportunity for Hughton to pair Hooper with fellow summer arrival Ricky van Wolfswinkel from the start, after the Dutchman was declared fit to make his comeback after a toe injury.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel hasn't started a game alongside Gary Hooper yet. Credit: PA

The Canaries are currently enjoying a decent spell of form which has seen them pick up ten points from their last six games.

In contrast, Gus Poyet's Sunderland are guaranteed to be bottom of the league at Christmas regardless of the scoreline at the Stadium of Light on Saturday having only managed two wins all season.

Sunderland have suffered 11 losses this season. Credit: PA

Despite this, Hughton says that the Black Cats will be a tough nut to crack.

"It will be a tough game.

There aren't any easy games, and you have to show a resilience away from home."

– Chris Hughton, Norwich City Manager

A win for Norwich would open up an 11 point gap over their opponents as they look to continue their push up the table.

The return of van Wolfswinkel and Robert Snodgrass will no doubt provide a welcome boost, but City will still be without the likes of Anthony Pilkington and Alex Tettey who have been ruled out through injury.