Paul Lambert believes his City side will be “nearly there” if they can collect all three points from their trip to relegation strugglers Leyton Orient tomorrow night.
Norwich find themselves nine points clear of third place Leeds and the league leaders know that a victory will see them take a giant step towards promotion with only four games remaining after the Brisbane Road clash.
And the Scot is confident that they can get over the finishing line as soon as possible, with promotion – and the title – within touching distance now.
“A new manager [Russell Slade] has come in at Leyton Orient so it will be another tough game. They are fighting for their lives to stay in this league,” Lambert said this morning, speaking to reporters at Colney.
“But it will be nervy for them and it’s sometimes harder to play at home rather than away. We go there in terrific form and if we win it, we are nearly there.
“We are in a terrific position and we’ll try and finish it now. It doesn’t matter where we do it; it’s just about getting over that line. It is in our hands.”
There could well be one or two changes to the City XI in east London, with skipper Grant Holt a definite absentee as he starts a two-match suspension for reaching 10 yellow cards in the 1-1 draw with MK Dons on Saturday.
Wes Hoolahan will have a late fitness test as he recovers from the thigh strain that has kept him out of the last two matches and Gary Doherty – who returned to the side at the weekend after a dead leg – will also be monitored.
There is one piece of good news though, with ‘keeper Fraser Forster returning from his own ban. Whether he replaces deputy Declan Rudd, however, is not guaranteed. Lambert is a confirmed admirer of the Diss-born shot-stopper and he has been faultless during the last two matches.
But it’s at the other end of the pitch where everyone is talking about and if Hoolahan doesn’t come through, it will be interesting to see if City’s attacking threat is significantly blunted by the absence of Holt and their main trickster.
“You do miss Wes, but it’s like that with any player in the team. You do miss them but it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.
“Look what they [Hoolahan and Holt] have done for us! But it’s time for other players to come in and do well for us.
“We just have to get on with it. I have trusted other lads to come in and keep doing what the team has being doing.”
With the skipper missing, Stephen Elliott is the likely choice to partner Chris Martin. And according to Lambert, tomorrow is a perfect example of when having a large squad comes into play. They are not paid to sit around and do nothing after all…
“We said when we brought Stephen in that we needed a bit of help up front in case something happened – that’s why we did it. They are a squad – a group – and that has never changed in my mind, we always need everybody in the group.”
Yet again, the Canaries will be backed by a large and vociferous away following, with 3,000 making the trip to the capital tomorrow evening.
And Lambert believes that it may be advantageous to be away from the red-hot atmosphere of Carrow Road, as they aim to notch the first of the two wins needed to clinch promotion.
“I always think that is the case if you are at home, it’s harder to play there because people expect. And we will go there with a terrific following behind us and we’ll try and win the game.
“We’ve had an unbelievable level of support all season and they will do the same tomorrow, coming in their thousands and getting behind us.
“They have been brilliant. On Saturday, I thought they were excellent. I thought we played well and in the second-half we were the more dominant side. The crowd kept with us and they have been a major part of what’s happened.”
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