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Norwich City-West Ham United Preview

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN

STATS Senior Writer

(AP) -- Chris Hughton is remaining positive in the face of a three-match losing streak ahead of Norwich City's visit to Upton Park on Tuesday to face West Ham United.

Hughton, a former Hammers defender, saw his side open December with three one-goal victories to stretch their unbeaten run to 10 before suffering three one-goal defeats on the trot to end 2012. The Canaries fell 4-3 at home to Manchester City on Saturday.

"In two of them games are home games against Chelsea - the Champions League winners - and Manchester City - the Barclays Premier League winners," Hughton insisted. "And a tough one at West Brom.

"So they're tough games. We're in every game, that's the most important thing. And if we continue to be in every game, then we'll have a chance of winning."

His opposite number, Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, was effusive in praise for Hughton.

"Since a pretty iffy start, he's gone back to basics, Chris, and he's got the team defending correctly and making themselves very difficult to score against," Allardyce said.

Norwich City (6-7-7) are in 11th place on 25 points - two more than 12th-placed West Ham (6-5-8). These sides played to a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road on Sept. 15.

Allardyce's side extended their winless run to four with Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Reading. James Collins had a howler as he carelessly gave the ball away for Pavel Pogrebnyak's fifth-minute goal.

"Unfortunately James has been really solid and one of our best defenders since he's joined us (but) makes a basic error and they take full advantage of it," Allardyce said.

Collins compounded his misery by picking up a yellow card in the 45th minute, and he is suspended for this match. Kevin Nolan is also suspended after he was booked in the 81st.

"We got a little frustrated with ourselves, gave some silly, niggling free kicks away and none moreso than Kevin Nolan and James Collins, because they are both on four bookings," Allardyce said. "If they'd have got through today, like they've got through many games, they wouldn't be suspended. Now they are suspended, which is a massive blow for us."

Ricardo Vaz Te returned for the first time in nearly months after being out with a shoulder injury, but the substitute somehow contrived to send his late header wide of the target when it seemed easier to equalise. Vaz Te apologised to his manager, teammates and West Ham supporters.

"I'm obviously very disappointed so I'm going to strive to do better next time," Vaz Te told West Ham's official web site. "I'm going to keep work and keep improving and as my fitness picks up, I will surely do better."

Defender Russell Martin had a brace Saturday for Norwich while Steve Morison - linked with Aston Villa and former Canaries boss Paul Lambert - left with a groin injury.

The loss of Morison would limit Hughton's striking options, although Grant Holt could return. Holt played against Chelsea on Boxing Day but sat out against City with a hamstring injury.

Canaries defender Steven Whittaker has missed the last two fixtures with a knock.

Updated December 30, 2012

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