City boss Paul Lambert is unlikely to dip into the loan market, despite the Canaries suffering their fair share of injuries in recent weeks.
Midfielder Stephen Hughes has undergone an ankle injury and he is likely to be out of action for “a couple of months”. Add Adam Drury, Zak Whitbread, Michael Nelson and Andrew Surman to the sick list and you’ve got the makings of a mini injury crisis.
But as per usual, money talks. And Lambert just simply hasn’t got the big bucks to play with, unlike tomorrow’s opponents Middlesbrough.
“You certainly need the luck and we’ve got a few [injuries] at the moment,” said the Scot, speaking to the media at Colney this morning. “But that happens and sometimes you get a spate of them and sometimes you have a clear run.
“It’s something that maybe we have to look at [loaning someone in] but the finances dictate. I don’t have the major resources to go and do it.
“You can only work with what you’ve got and I can’t pluck money from thin air. We just can’t afford what a lot of teams can so we’ll have to go with what we’ve got.
“I’m probably experiencing the repercussions from two or three seasons ago and I don’t think the club will put itself in that position again.
“There might be a bit there but we won’t be able to compare with the bigger ones. I keep hearing people say that we should be up there in the table but look at the size of some of the clubs and the money they’ve been spending.
“I saw – and I don’t know how true it is – that Middlesbrough have spent £11 million in a year. We’ve spent 11p! Cardiff can go and get Craig Bellamy and there are loads of teams that are miles ahead of us on the budget side of things.”
Despite the club’s precarious financial position, which has been made clear to supporters and press alike over recent months and years, City do find themselves in the top six 12 games into their Championship return.
And even though the 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace on Tuesday night was a lacklustre affair, Lambert only has words of praise for his players. They are more than competing with the division’s big guns and the vibe around Carrow Road is changing every week. The Norfolk public expect.
“Those lads deserve every bit of credit that comes their way. I’ve got a group of lads that give me everything week in, week out. The fans are now coming to the stadium expecting us to win and that’s great.
“You sense people’s disappointment now when we get beat but that shows how far we’ve come. But we haven’t got a squad full of players that have played in the Championship before and we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win.”
Despite the injury woes discussed earlier, Lambert can welcome summer signing Elliott Ward back tomorrow, after the former West Ham defender served his one-match suspension for the Eagles clash.
And the Canary chief is delighted. To be fair to Ward, he’s been outstanding so far in 2010/11.
“Elliott Ward and Leon Barnett have been absolute rocks for us at the back,” continued a chirpy Lambert. “When you lose somebody like Elliott there is a void there.
“Since the Watford game – and even then he hadn’t trained much – he’s been excellent. He’ll be back tomorrow and hopefully he’ll be OK.
“Elliott’s been excellent, as I said, and he’s very good on the ball as well. Him and Leon complement each other very well and his return tomorrow is a big plus for us.”
As for tomorrow’s opposition, they surprisingly find themselves in trouble at the wrong end of the table. But Boro will be smarting after they parted company with Gordon Strachan at the start of the week, and you always have to be wary of the wounded animal.
Caretaker boss Steve Agnew will be hoping to boost his job credentials with a positive result in Norfolk tomorrow.
“With the strength of their squad you’d expect them to come good but you just never know. They’ve got some really good players and it’ll be a hard game for us.”
A hard contest it certainly should be, but Lambert revealed that his squad are in good spirits despite the Palace reverse; one defeat doesn’t spoil a terrific start to the season. However, the Scot revealed that he may still shuffle the pack this weekend.
“I had a chat with the players yesterday and they always bounce back, that’s one thing I can always say about them. The players always give me everything they’ve got.
“I might freshen it up tomorrow though because the same group have been going weeks and weeks on end and some others can come in and continue what the rest have been doing.”
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