City boss Paul Lambert will spend his New Year sifting the ‘world beaters from the panel beaters’ as the 2010 January transfer window opens for business.
With the Canary boss today revealing that his Danish centre-half Jens Berthel Askou is likely to be missing from Norwich’s Championship promotion push for at least another six weeks after breaking the metatarsal bone in his foot following that hefty challenge in the Yeovil clash, it is clear that Lambert is in a mood to strengthen.
Talks are already underway with his two ’emergency loan’ signings – Swindon winger Anthony McNamee and ex-Posh skipper Russell Martin – with a view to making their deals permanent.
But as Lambert watches and waits for the likes of Leeds, Charlton, Huddersfield and Southampton to seek reinforcements in the newly-opened transfer window, so he too can be found wading through piles of DVDs in a bid to unearth the next piece in his own promotion jigsaw.
“We’re trying to do something at the minute,” said Lambert, speaking this morning ahead of tomorrow’s trip to his old employers, Wycombe Wanderers.
“But it’s the same old thing – whether it happens, we’ll have to wait and see.”
He is, it appears, not short of agents punting their players his way. Hence the pile of DVDs he has to trawl through.
“You get an agent telling you this one’s brilliant – or this one’s brilliant. Brilliant? No.
“You get some good ones – don’t get me wrong. But you get DVDs galore – and, honestly, they look world beaters. And as somebody once said, you get them over and they look like a panel beater.”
His transfer criteria is straight-forward. And can be summed up in one word.
“I look for somebody that is hungry, first and foremost,” he said, all-too well-versed in the legend that is ‘Costa del Colney’.
“You will have seen it before. People come here in their comfort zone. Think: ‘Lovely area; lovely training facility… I’ll hang about here for a few months…’
“And then go away again. I don’t want that type of player. I want someone who is hungry; someone that’s got a desire and enthusiasm for the game. That’s the type of lad I want.
“You can put up with anything – as long as they’re hungry to do well.”
And on a full-time deal. “Ideally, I always want my own – that’s what I want. Then you have them under your jurisdiction. And, as I’ve said, loans crippled this place before. And I don’t want that to happen again.”
As for Messrs McNamee and Martin, both look odds-on to pen full-time deals before the month is out. Sooner, ideally, given that – in theory – the pair’s initial loan deals expire on Monday.
“We’re talking to their respective clubs at the minute and we’ll try and see whether we can do it,” said Lambert.
McNamee has barely had a sniff of first team action; diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but they do an out-and-out winger of McNamee’s ilk few favours. But Lambert insists he has seen more than enough in training to warrant talk of a full-time deal.
“I know what I can get from him and as I’ve said, if we’re going to do anything we’re going to need a group of people – not just 12 or 13 people. The squad is more important than the team – that’s always been the case.”
Askou’s latest injury update merely concentrates the mind further on finding fresh legs in that centre-half department.
“Jens is going to be another six weeks, we think,” confirmed Lambert, who was forced to throw Martin and Michael Nelson together in the recent absence of the suspended Gary Doherty.
“And it could be longer – the metatarsal is a strange bone to break. So it could be six – or it could be a bit longer.
“It just depends on how that bone heals.”
He is not in any mood to let anyone go this window. “As I’ve said before, the squad is big enough in numbers but most of them haven’t played many first team games.
“Most of them are young kids. You look at our bench against Millwall and I think the average age was about four!”
Stephen Hughes is the one, short-term doubt for tomorrow’s trip to Adams Park. He has a knock to the calf, but the return to fitness of youngster Korey Smith ensures that Lambert has a ready-made replacement to call upon.