City boss Paul Lambert insists his players can deal with the League One heat as they aim to get the Canary promotion bid back on track against Swindon tomorrow.
Robins chief Danny Wilson questioned the Canaries’ stomach for the fight yesterday stating: “Name alone doesn’t make a team.
“Their players have to live up to the club’s reputation, and that expectation level is not something that some players can handle.”
But Lambert, who hinted that he not seen the article, was quick to defend his players, who, in fairness, have rarely let the Scot down since his arrival in Norfolk.
“You can ask any player in the league and a lot would want to come here. And if you’re here, you have to be able to handle the expectation,” he told the press this morning.
“The lads have handled it so far so I don’t have a problem. If somebody [Danny Wilson] wants to speak like that then so be it.
“But the lads are doing really well, the crowd are sensing that by coming in their droves. And even though our league position isn’t up there with Leeds and Charlton, we’re still the team to beat.”
The Canary boss does, however, have more injury problems to contend with ahead of the Carrow Road clash with their play-off rivals.
Jon Otsemobor, who returned in the cruel 2-1 defeat at Leeds, is still struggling with a hamstring strain and to add to longer-term casualties Michael Nelson and Michael Spillane, Luke Daley and Cody McDonald also picked up knocks during the week.
There was one piece of good news though with Korey Smith resuming training after a thigh injury kept him out of the trip to Elland Road.
“Korey trained yesterday, we’ll see how he feels this morning and we’ll decide from there,” Lambert continued.
“Jon’s hamstring is a cause for concern at the minute. He’s another one that we’ll have to see on. It was coming the longer the game went on but hopefully he’ll be OK. We’ll also have to wait and see on Luke and Cody.”
There was also a word of warning on returning duo Matt Gill and Owain Tudur Jones, with the Scot admitting that both were a little way off being considered for a starting berth – despite the pair getting some reserve team minutes in the midweek win at Northampton.
“Neither are ready for first team games at the moment. They’ve done fine but they’re both short of a lot of lads in the group because they haven’t trained at the intensity that they have.
“But if they keep on training then they will get up to speed. The pair are still short of first team fitness but hopefully they’ll be ready for consideration soon.”
With the City chief not enjoying much luck on the injury front this season, he took the opportunity to reveal his frustration at the lack of transfer activity.
In an ideal world, the former Celtic and Scotland star would have added a few new faces by now. But as is usually the case in the third tier, cash is thin on the ground.
“It’s slightly frustrating. We haven’t got much money to spend at the minute. We went in for those players [Swindon’s Anthony McNamee and Exeter defender Dan Seaborne] but we can’t afford them.
“Listen, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s great but it’s happened. I’m not going to sit here and moan about it either because the lads here have given me everything they’ve got – they’ve been brilliant. But the money is not there at the minute.”
He did, however, stress that the mood in the Canary camp was good despite that heartbreaking last-gasp defeat in west Yorkshire.
And Lambert is expecting a big performance in front of a sell out Carrow Road tomorrow afternoon when the Robins come to town.
“The spirit’s good. Everybody knows how well we played [at Leeds]. We were excellent, and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t come away with anything.
“You need a bit of luck on your side to get results, but regarding the way we played, we were terrific. It was really, really pleasing.
“Our confidence will be sky high. I think the game is a sell out as well, which is phenomenal, and we’ll do everything we can to win the game – we’re certainly playing well enough to win.
“It’ll be a tough game, they all are in this division. At one point, Swindon were probably miles ahead of us but we’re just ahead of them now after going on a run.”