City boss Paul Lambert today warned that his side are going to have to overcome teams eager to claim a big scalp as they prepare to head south for tomorrow’s clash at Gillingham.
Despite their lowly position, the Canaries are still one of the division’s glamour clubs and the Gills – two leagues below City last year – will be desperate to kick-start their season tomorrow against their more newsworthy visitors.
And Lambert warned that crowd sizes and status means nothing in League One – the sooner the Norfolk club get used to that the better.
“Norwich City should always be a team – whether they are at home or away – that others want to beat. This Saturday won’t be any different,” Lambert told the press this morning.
“You’re a name, you’re a scalp and they’ll want to take us, not the other way around. But we’re not thinking ‘oh we’re only going to Gillingham where they only get 8,000’.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter and we’re there to be shot at. Norwich City are a big name but we are where we are at the minute so something tells you that things haven’t been going brilliantly.
“We weren’t the scalp we were four years ago, but we’re still a massive scalp in this league.”
City now enter an intense period of games, with Leyton Orient coming to Carrow Road on Tuesday, followed by Bristol Rovers – again at home. They must then return to Priestfield on Tuesday October 6th for a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash.
And Lambert admitted it would stretch his injury-ravaged squad to the max, even if he was hoping that youthful exuberance would see them through.
“Performance-wise there have been a lot of positives lately. You meet a lot of people that said last week was the best game they’ve seen in years at Carrow Road so the lads must be doing something right.
“But this next couple of weeks will test us that’s for sure, especially if you get injuries. But, especially with the younger ones, the enthusiasm will carry them through.”
In team news, the Scot hinted that Wes Hoolahan could keep his place alongside Grant Holt in attack after the pair terrorised the Addicks last Saturday.
The Canary chief has long talked about shape and being harder to beat. But the attacking flair that Hoolahan offered the team will have given Lambert plenty of food for thought.
“They were brilliant,” he continued, talking about the new strike partnership. “Wes’ goal was terrific and I thought Grant was a handful all game.
“We were on the ascendency in the second half and we could have nicked it at the end.
“I don’t necessarily think you should change it too much. You should always try and play the same away as you do at home.
“Your ability should always be there. I know what Wes can do on the ball, he can make things happen.
“Sometimes you need more than that but football is great for people being individually different. I wouldn’t ask Wes Hoolahan to do what Adam Drury can do or what Jon Otsemobor can do.”
On the injury front, there was a big boost with the news that Stephen Hughes was back in training after damaging a nerve in his foot during the MK Dons defeat.
And Lambert was hopeful that he could play some part tomorrow…
“Stephen Hughes trained yesterday and hopefully he’ll be OK. We’ll assess him again today and see how he feels. Darel Russell’s OK as well and I thought he was terrific last week.
“But Matt Gill and Owain Tudur Jones are still in the treatment room. Michael Nelson’s still struggling as well – he’ll be out for a month or so. Those three are longer-term ones.”