City boss Paul Lambert insists that there’s no extra pressure on the Canaries, as their League One rivals try and gun them down from the League One summit.
Ahead of their trip to fellow promotion chasers Swindon tomorrow, the general consensus outside of Norfolk is that City are almost there, with a twelve-point gap to Charlton in third place being deemed too big to make up.
Tomorrow’s opposing manager Danny Wilson has even been quoted as saying that Norwich have “one foot in the door of the Championship”, and that can bring its own hassles.
But Lambert is adamant that the heat is on wherever you are in the league, whether that’s fighting to stay in it or battling to get out of it.
“There is pressure everywhere, whether you are top, middle or bottom,” he told reporters at his pre-match press conference this morning.
“Football is a pressure game. You have to try and win as many games as you can and we had the same demands when we were trying to catch everybody.
“When you’re sitting there with one point and Leeds and Charlton are on 15 or whatever, that’s pressure. But I’d rather be where we are now – that’s the best pressure to have.”
It’s worth remembering the Canaries haven’t fallen off their perch since taking top spot against Brentford in late January and that would suggest City can cope with pretty much anything that’s thrown their way.
And Lambert paid tribute to his troops once again as they try and finish the task of securing promotion as soon as possible.
“What those lads have done has been incredible. I keep going back to the first day but with losing a manager and the expectancy levels at the club, what they’ve done is incredible.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey so far and we need a little bit now to see if we can try and finish it. You try and get the job done, no matter how you do it. That’s what everybody at the club wants to try and do.”
In team news, the Scot revealed that Adam Drury is in contention for a start after another 70 minutes under his belt for the reserves in midweek. But for Zak Whitbread and Cody McDonald, who got a half each in the second string win over Peterborough, they will have to wait a little while longer before being considered.
“Those two aren’t ready but it was good to see them back. Once we get those two back we’ll have everyone fit apart from Luke Daley [thigh] – he’s the only one who will be out for a little bit.
“Over the next week or so they’ll get more training under their belt and hopefully by that point they’ll be nearly ready.
“Adam’s around about it. Him coming back is a major plus for us with the way he’s been playing. We’ll see how he feels.”
At the top end of the pitch, it would be a surprise to see the ‘Three Musketeers’ broken up. But Stephen Elliott certainly staked his claim with that match-winning brace at Huddersfield last weekend.
And Lambert favours the squad approach. You need to have more than eleven capable players if you are to challenge for honours.
“It’s up to me who I put in but I see everybody as being as vital as each other. There are not just eleven lads or anything like that.
“You can’t have the front three always thinking that it’s going to go easy for them. You’re trying to build some pressure and that’s what you do when you’re trying to build a squad.
“You’ve got to make sure everybody is as good as each other and when your turn comes you’ve got to take your chance.
“We’ve got some really good players at the football club but it’s up to others to come in and dislodge them.”
And in a final warning, Lambert is urging everyone not to pop the champagne corks yet – there is still plenty of work left to do.
“There are some great sides behind us – Leeds and Charlton – and also Millwall, who are going great at the moment.
“It will be tough, there is still a lot of work to be done but we’re in the mix. When it’s mathematically finished then fine, but I’m not going to let anyone get complacent because it’s not. We’re nowhere near it. There is still a long way to go.
“People underestimate this league, there are some really tough places to go and try and grind out results.”
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