City boss Paul Lambert has warned his players not to underestimate managerless Tranmere ahead of tomorrow’s Carrow Road clash.
The Merseysiders have had a dreadful campaign so far, sitting just one place off the bottom in League One.
And after the sacking of John Barnes just over a month ago, there has been no real improvement under the tutelage of caretaker boss Les Parry.
But you must always be wary of a wounded animal and with little expected of them, the Prenton Park outfit just may go out with a ‘nothing to lose’ mindset.
Either way, it makes for a tricky encounter for Lambert’s promotion-chasing Canaries – whatever the bookmakers may say.
“This will be a tough game. With where Tranmere are sitting in the league, people are just expecting us to turn up and win,” he told the press this morning.
“But we’ll be ready for it and if we play the way we have been, then you are hoping that we get the breaks and get the three points.
“You’ve got to earn the right to play against teams. If we do that then we’ll be fine but if we don’t, we could end up in trouble.
“You can never rest. It’s another game and you’ve got to treat it the same as the others. You can’t think that you can just turn up and win – if we do that we’ll end up getting beat.
“They have taken some beatings but I don’t think Tranmere are as bad as their league position suggests. They are having a hard time at the minute but it’s up to us to keep them down there.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in this league, everybody is capable of beating each other. Who would have thought Carlisle would have beaten Charlton so convincingly?”
With Lambert admitting that some of the players left behind for Tuesday’s JPT clash at Swindon are carrying knocks, tomorrow’s line-up will be an interesting one. However, the Scot hinted that all his big guns will be back as Norwich aim to keep up the pressure on second-placed Charlton.
Stephen Hughes and Jon Otsemobor both returned in the penalty shoot-out success at the County Ground and with neither showing signs of a relapse, the pair look set to be in the squad at least. There was good news also on Adam Drury, with the long-serving defender taking part in training yesterday.
And the Canary chief will be hoping for a much bigger list to choose from than he’s been used to in recent weeks, even though the luckless Owain Tudur Jones has been ruled out with a groin strain.
“Hopefully we’ll have one or two back from the other night. Otsemobor seems to be OK, Adam Drury trained yesterday so hopefully there will be no reaction with his knee.
“And if the others come through today, then they should be fine and available. But Owain will be out with a groin strain that he picked up the other night.”
Another potential headache for Lambert will be just how he tells Messrs Dawkin, Adeyemi and Co that they are being left out after a stirring win in Wiltshire during the week. But as far as the Scot is concerned, doing it once doesn’t mean you’ve cracked it.
“It won’t be difficult [to leave them out]. The lads that have been performing week in, week out have done great. I know the team that will play.”
As for Josh Dawkin, Lambert revealed that he could well be one to watch in the coming years after his impressive showing on Tuesday. He doesn’t, however, feel that the 17-year-old left-winger is ready for a first team push just yet.
Unlike his pal Korey Smith, Dawkin just might have to bide his time in the reserves a little longer. But like with Chrissy Martin, Smith, Luke Daley and George Francomb, the City boss is certainly in the ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ camp.
And it is certainly encouraging, after years of promise with Academy ‘starlets’, to see so many graduating into the first team setup – even if it is a case of needs must at times.
“He [Dawkin] needs a little bit more time. He might be able to do it in a one-off game but it’s tough for them to do it week in, week out. Korey has done it well this season but there might be a time when he needs a rest. But as long as Josh he keeps progressing, he’s got a chance.”