City boss Paul Lambert today turned to a very familiar face in his bid to finally resolve Norwich’s on-going problems at right-back.
Familiar, that is, to him.
Posh full-back Russell Martin is unlikely to be a name that has crossed many a-lip in Norfolk of late; but Lambert knows the 23-year-old inside out from their days at Wycombe Wanderers together.
It was, said the player himself, a key reason why he agreed to this morning’s month-long ’emergency’ loan switch – in that he knew that Lambert and his No2, Ian Culverhouse, would be waiting at Carrow Road.
“I’ve known him from when he was at Wycombe and he’d done brilliant for me at that particular time,” said the City chief, who has spent most of the autumn making do and mending on the right-hand side of his midfield.
One injury after another has plagued the manager’s best attempts to find a settled full-back pairing; now he has turned to a player and a character he can trust; one with a League One promotion medal already on his cv following last season’s success at London Road.
“He then moved onto Peterborough and went on to do even better,” said Lambert, after concluding only his second piece of in-coming transfer business following the arrival of Fraser Forster on a now, season-long loan deal from Newcastle.
Martin’s arrival is, initially, only of a month’s duration; long enough to take him into the January transfer window when all things are possible. He is also eligible to play in the FA Cup and will, therefore, go straight into the squad for Saturday’s second round clash with Carlisle United.
Character was one of Martin’s strengths, said Lambert. Quietly dependable seemed to be the gist.
“The character of a footballer has to be that they’re humble and modest about their own career,” said the former European Cup winning midfielder – who tends not to wear such an achievement on his sleeve.
“And he’s been involved in a promotion – so he knows how to win which is great.”
Jon Otsemobor, Korey Smith, Adam Drury and even young George Francombe have all come and gone in that right-back berth this season; high time that someone made that gig their own.
“We needed some help in that position,” said Lambert, suggesting that a full-time deal was firmly in the wind.
“I could have gone for a loan and looked at other people, but when I heard that Russell was coming available I thought: ‘Yes, let’s try and do it…'”
As for the player himself, he appeared delighted by today’s switch after featuring in just 14 of Peterborough’s games this season.
“To be honest, as soon as I knew that Norwich were interested – and there were a few other clubs interested – it was [the fact] that the gaffer and Ian [Culverhouse] were here made me say that I wanted to go there.
“And, to be fair to the club [Norwich], they’ve managed to do it very quickly.”
A swift, surgical strike for a player that Lambert knows all about – it appears to be a smart piece of business. The fact that today’s move comes on the back of last night’s resounding 4-1 win over Brighton merely adds to feel-good factor sweeping back into Carrow Road.
“I’m not going into the unknown…” were the manager’s exact words at this lunch-time’s official unveiling of his new charge.
And nor, of course, was Martin.
“I worked under the gaffer and Ian for two years at Wycombe before so they know what I’m about. And I know how they work – and I really enjoyed it.
“I had two great years with them and to come and re-join them again at such a big club, it’s great.”
He has clearly been watching events with interest from afar; or as far as Peterborough.
“The start was well-documented but since the gaffer and Ian has come in, the club’s got momentum. And it’s what we had at Peterborough last year; we went on runs, if we lost a game, we’d win the next one.
“We didn’t lose two on the bounce. And that’s exactly what they’ve done here. And that’s what you want – you want to be coming into a club that’s doing well.
“And the boys are on fire at the minute. Another good result last night and, hopefully, I can come in now and add a little bit and get a chance.”