Hughton gave me my big break, but I’m out to up­set him – Josh

Western Mail - - SPORT - DO­MINIC BOOTH Foot­ball writer do­minic.booth@waleson­

THE na­ture of Cardiff City’s sum­mer trans­fer busi­ness and their squad’s lack of Premier League ex­pe­ri­ence means there was al­ways go­ing to be pres­sure on Josh Mur­phy.

For­tu­nately, the fly­ing Blue­birds star has been in­stilled with con­fi­dence through­out his fledg­ling ca­reer, not just by his cur­rent boss Neil Warnock but by the man in the op­po­si­tion dugout on Satur­day.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton handed Mur­phy his start in foot­ball, in­tro­duc­ing the then 18-year-old to a 2013 League Cup tie for Nor­wich against Wat­ford.

And just like he’s done for Cardiff, Mur­phy made a rapid start. He scored seven min­utes af­ter com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute.

So, while the 23-year-old has plenty to thank Hughton for, he’s de­ter­mined to build on his re­birth in a blue shirt – lead­ing the way with two goals so far this term – and con­tinue his de­vel­op­ment as a Premier League player.

“For most of the squad com­ing into the Premier League it’s about adapt­ing and get­ting used to our sur­round­ings as quick as we can,” ad­mit­ted Mur­phy.

“It’s taken a while but now we’re start­ing to get the rhythm and en­joy the Premier League more so than at the start of the sea­son. There’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment – un­til we start win­ning games con­sis­tently – and that’s some­thing we’re try­ing to do.

“I’m re­ally en­joy­ing my foot­ball and (Cardiff) is a good place to play, some­where that suits me.”

Mur­phy is quickly jus­ti­fy­ing the £11mil­lion fee Cardiff paid for him from Nor­wich, but hasn’t for­got­ten his roots in East Anglia, nor the debt of grat­i­tude he owes to Hughton.

He’s also un­der no il­lu­sions about the strength of the Seag­ulls, this week­end’s vis­i­tors to Cardiff City Sta­dium.

“Brighton are a well or­gan­ised team. I know Chris Hughton from my time at Nor­wich so it’s go­ing to be good to see him,” he added.

“He was great, he gave me my de­but so I can’t thank him enough. But when the game comes we’ll be try­ing to put the ball past his team.

On that de­but, he re­called: “I re­mem­ber be­ing ner­vous about play­ing my first game, but seven min­utes af­ter I came on, I’d scored, so it wasn’t too bad.

“I re­ally like him (Hughton) as a man and a man­ager and I think he’s done a great job at Brighton and I think he’s happy there. So long may his suc­cess con­tinue. Brighton have done well this sea­son but our fo­cus is on what we can do to win the game, we know how im­por­tant our home form is.”

The spot­light is on Mur­phy a lit­tle more now than it was five years ago at Nor­wich.

His promis­ing form is not go­ing un­no­ticed, a cou­ple of high-pro­file pun­dits re­cently pick­ing him out for praise. Warnock, too, is seem­ingly plac­ing more faith in Mur­phy as a key at­tack­ing out­let.

“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” Mur­phy said on the highs and lows that come with ex­tra scru­tiny.

“But I’m rel­ish­ing play­ing week-in and week-out and I want to con­tinue to get bet­ter.

“At the mo­ment it’s go­ing well but even when it’s not, I want to keep the same aura about me.”

But shoul­der­ing Cardiff’s sur­vival hopes in his first Premier League sea­son since that spell as an 18-year-older un­der Hughton is no easy task for Mur­phy.

Di­plo­mat­i­cally, he says it will be a team ef­fort that keeps the Blue­birds up – even though fans will be look­ing to the left wing on Satur­day for at­tack­ing thrust.

“It’s re­ally tight at the bot­tom, one win and you’re out of the bot­tom three,” Mur­phy added.

“For us and other teams, we know you’re so close to be­ing out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone. It’s a good sit­u­a­tion that we’re in be­cause we’re not ex­pected to do well, there are other teams around us that shouldn’t be where they are, but who are strug­gling. We’re happy at the mo­ment and hope­fully we can climb up the ta­ble.

“We now know we’ve got a good run of games, we’ve played all the big teams peo­ple talk about and we’ve learned our lessons about let­ting in cheap, easy goals.

On cur­rent form, there’s no rea­son why Josh Mur­phy can’t look for­ward to ev­ery game. achieve­ments speak for them­selves and some­times you’ve got to be care­ful what you wish for.

“New­cas­tle were in a su­per po­si­tion when they got rid of him. He’s bad for us as man­agers, he’s so nice! He gives us a bad rep­u­ta­tion.”

“They’ll have good back­ing this week­end and it will be an­other tough game. “Neil’s com­ments this morn­ing are nice — but it’s also dif­fi­cult in this pro­fes­sion to be nice all the time be­cause there are al­ways tough de­ci­sions that you have to make to have suc­cess.

“I have great re­spect for him and our paths have crossed many times. He con­tin­ues to do a very good job at Cardiff. I’ll look for­ward to see­ing him what­ever the re­sult.”

Chris Hughton: Who are the key men?

THE Blue­birds will rely on the pace of Josh Mur­phy down the left. The for­mer Nor­wich young­ster has been their most im­pres­sive at­tack­ing per­former this sea­son and has two goals al­ready to his name.

In mid­field, the craft and guile of Vic­tor Ca­ma­rasa will again prove piv­otal al­though Warnock has been field­ing the Spa­niard in a nom­i­nal right-wing role.

Brighton, as al­ways, will be heav­ily re­liant on the solid cen­tre-back pair­ing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. Their part­ner­ship has been of the Premier League’s more im­pres­sive pair­ings in the past sea­son or two.

What are the odds? All odds ac­cord­ing to Sky Bet and cor­rect at time of writ­ing. Cardiff win: Brighton win: Draw:

2/1 6/4 2/1

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