Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton Keeping Feet Firmly on the Ground; Hughton Keeping Feet on Ground

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton Keeping Feet Firmly on the Ground; Hughton Keeping Feet on Ground

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

CHRIS Hughton says one of the hardest tasks facing Newcastle United is not getting carried away with the thought of returning to the Premier League.

Five points clear at the top of the Championship with 14 games left, the Magpies look a good bet to return to the division they were relegated from in May. But while some fans will be mentally planning for life in the top flight, Hughton is refusing to.

"It's very difficult for some people not to think about next season," he admitted. "It's perhaps easier for me because I've got a team to work with week-in, weekout.

We've got this gap at the top but it changes on a weekly basis and with the amount of games we've got coming up in the last two months of the season, two defeats in a week and two wins for someone else changes things dramatically. What you can't afford to do is look too far ahead."

Newcastle will be hoping to at least consolidate their position at Watford tomorrow, but must do so without a quartet of players who at the start of the week they were expecting to have fit. Hughton had hoped Jose Enrique (hamstring), Peter Lovenkrands (leg), Wayne Routledge (calf) and Nicky Butt (thigh) would all be available at Vicarage Road but each prognosis has proven overoptimistic.

The game marks Hughton's second anniversary at the club and he used the opportunity to reflect on his management career.

"Have I enjoyed being the manager? Yes, I've enjoyed it to whatever extent you can," he said. "There's the pressure and stresses and ups and downs that go with the job. I've enjoyed the challenge. I'm fortunate we have a challenge and something we can go for. "Early in the season it was week by week because I didn't have the job (permanently) initially. Probably the most pleasing part is the challenge. …

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