Scottish Premier League

Butcher hails Shinnie impact

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Thu, 25 Apr 2013 17:28:00

Fulham manager Martin Jol is determined to finish the season with a flourish after a run of four games without a win.

The Cottagers guaranteed Premier League safety with wins over Tottenham and QPR, but they have picked up only one point from their last four outings to end their chances of a top-six finish.

Successive defeats against Chelsea and Arsenal have left Fulham with little left to play for over the last four games, but Jol insists his side are motivated to end the season strongly.

"People ask me 'is it easy to inspire your players or to motivate each other?', but if you saw us play against Chelsea and Arsenal you saw that we were very dedicated and very energetic to try to get results," the Dutchman said.

Jol also revealed he had spoken at length to Steve Sidwell after he was sent off for the second time in as many matches in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal last weekend.

Sidwell saw red twice for reckless late tackles, and Jol added: "Hopefully that won't happen again in the future. What I said to him is private.

"It is a bit of his style, but if the team suffers then there is a problem. I know players want to win the ball, but there is a different way of doing it to this and hopefully it won't happen in the future."

Fulham travel to Everton this weekend hoping to end a run of 11 matches without a victory at Goodison Park.

"For Fulham, it's not an easy ground so we have to try to do some things differently and try to come up with a result," Jol said.

Winger Damien Duff is expected to be back in contention from his thigh injury lay-off, while combative on-loan Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong is available again after being ineligible against his parent club last weekend.

Jol added: "We will have a look again at (defender) Sascha Riether (ankle) on Friday morning and (midfielder) Mesca (Tue Na Bangna) has got a knock on his knee, so he won't be involved."

Bennett has been disciplined by the club and charged with misconduct by the Football Association over comments made on the social network.

The 23-year-old has closed his account after being involved in some heated exchanges with supporters on the micro-blogging site, responding to one following Norwich's defeat at Arsenal with: "I'll finish you in a couple of seconds."

Hughton confirmed it would not affect him selecting Bennett for Saturday's encounter against Stoke but said: "We have a policy at the club (on social media) so it's been dealt with at club level.

"It is an issue which is being dealt with by the FA but it's a reminder to those who decide to go on Twitter that when somebody like Ryan Bennett, who is a smashing lad, can have a charge pending then it can happen to anybody.

"If there needs to be a warning to anybody then it's there."

Hughton believes players must realise that there are lines they cannot cross.

He said: "There is a responsibility for everybody that decides to have a Twitter account to what they say. They are individuals that are in the limelight and there are boundaries that they are not allowed to cross.

"It is difficult because those who go on it do so to put what they feel are things of interest that supporters might want to hear, but with that there come boundaries of what you can and what you cannot get involved in."

Hughton believes a win against Stoke would ensure Premier League safety for 13th-placed Norwich but has warned his side against any complacency on meeting a side who have become a stable force in the top flight.

"We're expecting a very tough game," said Hughton. "It's always a real tough place to go.

"If we as a club are in a position where Stoke have been for the last seven years we would be delighted. The job (Stoke manager) Tony Pulis has done there has been tremendous. It's a model for teams like ourselves who have got promotion.

"What you definitely want is that type of stability, to become a mainstay in the division. It's always very difficult to become a top 10 team with the finances Premier League teams have but to have that stability is what we all want."

Norwich have recalled defender Leon Barnett from his loan spell at Cardiff as cover for centre-back Michael Turner who suffered a groin injury in the home win against Reading at the weekend and could be out for a fortnight.

Hughton will wait to decide whether to bring goalkeeper John Ruddy back into the squad following his five-month lay-off with a thigh injury.

Meanwhile, Hughton refused to say whether the club would be making Kei Kamara's loan spell at Carrow Road more permanent.

The Sierra Leone striker is due to return to his MLS club, Sporting Kansas, in two games time but while Kamara would like to extend his stay in the Premier League, Hughton said: "He is legally with us for the next two games and we have to make a decision on whether to make that a longer period.

"He's been very good on and off the pitch. When you bring in someone from overseas you are never quite sure but you have to back your judgement and he has settled in very quickly."

Shinnie secured a move to Birmingham on a three-year contract on Monday before being named on a four-man shortlist for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has netted 15 goals from an advanced midfield role this season, also making his Scotland debut in a friendly win over Luxembourg in November.

But less than two years ago he was without club after being released by Rangers.

"It's an indication of what can happen here," said Butcher, whose team could go a long way towards wrapping up a top-three finish in the SPL by beating St Johnstone on Saturday.

"He plays a trial game here, we get him on a two-year deal and he's been fantastic for us.

"And he's now got a good move to Birmingham. We'll wish him well then but there are still four games to go and he can have a major impact on how we finish and where we finish."

Shinnie faces competition from three strikers for the award - Motherwell's Michael Higdon, Hibernian talisman Leigh Griffiths and Niall McGinn of Aberdeen.

Butcher said: "I'm surprised there's no Celtic players there but it's down to the players an their choices and I'm delighted Andy is there.

"When you get something like that it reflects well on the whole club let alone the team and Andrew Shinnie.

"He's been backed up by a wonderful team that enjoys the way Andy plays and wants to give him the ball. He's been responsible for some magic moments.

"I'm disappointed his brother (Graeme) is not in the young players' list - he has been one of the most consistent players in the SPL this season - but it's wonderful to have one there."

Shinnie is so far the only confirmed departure from Inverness this summer and Butcher hopes to avoid any more by tying up deals for Aaron Doran and Owain Tudur Jones.

"We are talking to the agents now and we'll see what we can do about that," Butcher said.

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