City boss Paul Lambert has insisted that it’s all hands to the pump as the high-flying Canaries get ready to welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Carrow Road tomorrow night.
It was Norwich substitute Stephen Hughes that made all the difference in the thrilling 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday and the Scot was adamant that the likes of Hughes and Michael Nelson still have a major role to play.
Many supporters have been calling for the classy Scotland international to be a regular fixture in the side after his return from injury. But while Lambert admitted that Hughes was good enough to be part of the starting XI, he vowed to stick with the current group for the time being.
“You don’t really need to justify anything with the younger ones, they are still learning. But you have the experienced ones who go out of team due to injury,” he said today.
“But when the team wins it’s very hard for them to come and knock on your door because they don’t really have an argument. For example, Michael Nelson and Stephen Hughes were in the team, doing great and then they got injured.
“But those lads have been terrific around the place and are part of the group. There is no doubt that I’m going to need them at certain times in the next few games.
“They are good enough to be in the team but we haven’t got time to experiment. I’ve got to go and pick the team that I think can win the match.”
The games are certainly coming thick and fast at the moment and with another capacity crowd expected for the Seagulls visit, it’s all set up for another special night under the lights.
But Lambert issued his usual word of warning on teams visiting Carrow Road. City will certainly have their work cut out if they are to keep up their excellent form.
“They’ll come to Carrow Road and think there are great surroundings and a massive crowd. Everyone expects Norwich to win and sometimes, that’s an easy thing to play against.
“We have to make the running but the way we’re playing at the minute, we’ll certainly be up for the game, that’s for sure.”
With the Canaries having only been beaten once in their last thirteen outings, they are rightly being tipped as genuine promotion contenders. That brings its own pressures but Lambert admitted that while complacency is a concern, it is not something that his squad have shown yet. And you just get the feeling that the former Celtic captain is too cute to let something like that happen.
“I got asked the same question when we went down to Paulton Rovers in the FA Cup and the main thing is that you never get complacent in football. To be fair, since I’ve been here the lads haven’t been complacent one bit.
“Yes, there have been times where we haven’t been on the front foot the way you would want to – but that has mainly been down to the way teams have been playing against us. But effort-wise and performance-wise, the lads have been great.”
With players returning from injury in recent weeks – and Messrs Daley, Francomb, Tudur Jones and Gill said to be not too far away – Lambert’s squad has looked a little more solid.
But he maintained the need to bring in some fresh blood as soon as possible and with the ’emergency loan’ window slamming shut this Friday, the Canary chief hasn’t got much time to play with.
“The emergency loan window closes on Friday and obviously we’ve got to get through to January. We’ll have to do something between now and Thursday to see if we can get people in.
“We’re still a bit light and the team needs a bit of help. It’s a long season and you can’t keep throwing the young lads in.
“But it’s never easy because of the finances and other teams want a lot of money. We don’t have a bundle of money so we’re going to have to do a bit of wheeling and dealing. But the current group have done terrific for us.”