The BBC’s Championship expert Steve Claridge was firmly marking Paul Lambert’s card this week as he highlighted Leeds winger Robert Snodgrass as the man to watch.
The two, former League One rivals go head-to-head again at Elland Road this Saturday.
The Canaries have already sold out their full allocation of 2,300 tickets and with the Yorkshire club only marketing the game in its Category B banding price-wise, so the Whites are expecting the attendance to top the 30,000-plus mark.
And for the home faithful all eyes will be on Snodgrass who, fresh from winning his first-ever Scottish international cap in mid-week, scored an excellent solo goal in the 2-0 away win at Bristol City which duly kept Simon Grayson’s men firmly in the play-off mix.
It was the 23-year-old’s seventh goal of the campaign. Nothing too Earth shattering in that, but the composure and control he demonstrated deep in the Bristol box suggested a decent player.
Not that Lambert will be wholly unaware of his talents. The Scottish winger first cut his professional teeth at Livingston – where Lambert made his own managerial debut. And where, of course, one Wesley Hoolahan began to find his feet in the senior game.
Football often tends to be a very small world.
“Certainly away from home he [Snodgrass] plays in that wide role, but is given a freer rein to come in behind the two front men,” said Claridge, as he reviewed that performance at Ashton Gate and armed Lambert with a few tactical thoughts ahead of this weekend’s big game.
In particular, not to read too much into the way that his old Leicester team-mate Grayson sets out his stall away from home. At Elland Road, he expects Snodgrass to keep a tighter shape – to try and stretch the Canaries across the full width of the pitch as opposed to floating here, there and everywhere.
“At home, the onus is on you to attack and try and break sides down and you have to keep a bit more balance. And a bit more width.
“That when teams come to your place and make your life difficult, you have to make the pitch big. But away from home, he seems to have taken to that counter-attacking style that they play very, very well.”
Like Norwich, Claridge has also noted the numbers that Leeds travel with. Couple that to the number of goals that they score and the much-travelled Football League frontman is not expecting a low-key game this weekend.
Nor is he expecting that top pack to change much between now and the end of the season.
He believes the scene is pretty much now set for the top eight to scrap it out right the way to the finishing line. With the possible addition of one ‘fresh’ face.
“I do see the top eight being those that will be there in the Play-Offs and the top two getting automatic promotion – and I’d add to that Hull who are on a real charge,” he told viewers of his regular video blog on the BBC’s football website.
He also had a favourable word for the Canaries. They, he felt, were in the top four with some comfort; ditto the two, South Wales rivals Cardiff City and Swansea City.
“Of those six from the top eight, some are more comfortable than others,” he explained. “Swansea, Cardiff – and we can’t forget Norwich City. I think that’s eight times that they’ve managed to score a goal in stoppage time – and that’s a great sign.”
The big question for Lambert to answer tomorrow morning will be the exact extent of Leon Barnett’s hamstring injury.
Given the manner in which he pulled up very short in the second-half of last weekend’s 2-1 win over Reading, it didn’t look too big or clever.
The very fact that Lambert could be found afterwards talking about a dip into the emergency loan market again suggested that the City centre-half could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The fact that Michael Nelson was something of a star turn for Scunthorpe United in mid-week will only add to the manager’s frustration that the one injury fly in his ointment right now had to turn up in the one position that he didn’t have double cover for.
The Canaries might well be on the up and up, but still their luck never changes.