City boss Paul Lambert has insisted that while there will be changes for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area quarter-final at Swindon Town, he most certainly has Wembley in his sights.
But with injuries continuing to hamper the Scot’s best-laid plans, he will be having a few headaches about tonight’s County Ground line-up, especially with the ‘six player’ rule to consider.
Under the rules of the competition, clubs must field at least six players that have played the majority of fixtures throughout the season so far.
But with the lengthy injury list – which includes Stephen Hughes, Luke Daley, Michael Spillane, Matt Gill, Jon Otsemobor and George Francomb – and the one-match suspension for Grant Holt and Simon Lappin, Lambert has a job on his hands.
Add the fact that left-backs Adam Drury and Rhoys Wiggins are struggling with sore knees and it all adds to a familiar pre-match bulletin for the Canary chief.
“It depends on the injuries and we’ve got a couple of suspensions as well but there will be changes tonight, that’s for sure. Whether they are forced or not, I’ll have to look at it,” Lambert told the club’s official website.
“Rhoys has a bit of a sore knee so we’ll have to see how he is. But the lads who’ve come in have done really well for me, so we’ll have to see.
“Jon [Otsemobor] has not really trained as such. He’s done some work with the physios and trained a bit with the team on Thursday.
“But then we were away on Friday so he’s not really done much with us, but hopefully he has come through the last few days pretty unscathed.”
Lambert did reveal, however, that a loan addition – likely to be a defender – could be on the horizon. In last Thursday’s Colney press conference, the Scot said that he was waiting for the green light from another club.
And four days later, the ball still seems to be in their court…
“It’s with the other club at the minute so we’ll have to see where we are. If it goes through – great. But if it doesn’t then we’ll have to look elsewhere – we don’t hold the cards when it comes to getting loan players in.”
As in the last round at Gillingham, some of the young guns are likely to play their part this evening and Lambert will be hoping that youthful exuberance can see them through to the southern area semis – where they will then be only two ties from Wembley.
The 1-0 win at Priestfield saw starts for Francomb, Tom Adeyemi and Luke Daley, with Josh Dawkin and David Stephens getting some game time from the bench.
And while Lambert hinted that it could be another proud night for Ricky Martin and Co, as far the JPT is concerned, he is certainly ‘in it to win it’.
After all, it’s not every day you get the opportunity of a Wembley appearance. Tonight’s 600 or so travelling Canary supporters will be in agreement as well.
“Some of the younger ones come into the equation as they did at Gillingham. But it’s a competition I want to try and go all the way in because I’ve never been to Wembley before.
“So whatever team I pick will hopefully go and win the game. With the younger ones, their enthusiasm and honesty for the game might carry us through.
“I’m not devaluing it, I just can’t field lads that aren’t fit and able to take the field of play. With the same token I want to win it. I’m sure Danny Wilson will be the same, he might rest a few lads for their next league game, he’ll be no different.
“But in any competition you’re involved in you may as well go and try and win it. There is no point playing the game if you don’t want to try and win it.”
With Grant Holt on the sidelines for definite, Cody McDonald could be in line for a starting spot after some impressive performances from the bench.
The former Dartford man has two assists in his last two ‘super sub’ appearances. But the Canary chief admitted that proving yourself over 90 minutes is a different kettle of fish.
Over to you Cody…
“There is a fair chance that he’ll start but we’ll have to wait and see. The last few games when he’s come on, he’s done great.
“But when you start a game, that’s when the pressure is on you every single week. He’s found it a little tough to get in at the minute but coming off the bench, he’s made an impact on the game.”