City’s on-loan full-back Kyle Naughton will celebrate his 23rd birthday tomorrow in the full and certain knowledge that someone other than Paul Lambert is thinking of him.
He can also enjoy a proper Friday night out to celebrate given that Norwich have a free weekend with England taking centre stage.
But, speaking ahead of last weekend’s trip to Villa Park, it became clear that the Spurs prospect is still very much in the thoughts of boss Harry Redknapp after he travelled to Anfield to watch his young defender shine in the 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
“I think he might have spoken to the gaffer [Lambert] afterwards,” said Naughton, now firmly established as City’s first-choice right back.
“They had a quiet word with each other, but I haven’t really spoken to Harry since I’ve been here.
“Now and again, they’ll phone to say that they’re coming to a game to watch, but even if you don’t talk to them as much you just know that they’re sending people.”
As they did last year when Naughton caught Lambert’s eye out on loan at Leicester City.
“Whenever you go out on loan the best thing you can do is just get your head down and do well for the club you’re playing for. Then when you go back you can go out on loan again – or see whatever else happens. That’s not up to me really.
“That’s up to Tottenham and their manager – and whichever manager I’m playing for. So who knows what’s going to happen?”
Whether it would cross Lambert’s mind this January to seek a price for Naughton’s services on a full-time basis or whether the canny Canary chief will wait to see what the summer brings is – for now – for the future.
What is certain in that Naughton has settled very easily into the Lambert way of doing things; he will fight till the 94th minute and in the shape of City winger Elliott Bennett has found a perfect foil for his talents. The two dig each other out of trouble going backwards; over-lap all day going forwards.
Not that Naughton is resting on any laurels – be they club-wise or individually. Norwich and K Naughton still have it all to prove over the final two-thirds of the season, kicking off with the home clash with Arsenal in eight days’ time.
“There’s a lot of questions asked of any of the teams that come up from the Championship – can they handle it? And so on and so on,” he said.
“So it’s nice to know that we’ve come up and we’re fighting with everyone, but it’s still early. We’ve got a long way to go.
“And that’s the same for me, as for the team. It’s still early. I need to show that it’s not just now and these first ten games that I can do it – I need to show that I can do it through the whole season.
“But, on the other hand, it is enjoyable; it is my chance to show that I can do it in the Premiership.”
The system certainly suits his game; as it does Marc Tierney on the opposing wing. Both are given full licence to bomb on.
“It’s really good for me and Marc [Tierney] – he’s like a train the way that he gets up and down and the amount of running that he does.
“But the system is good for us and, as everyone can see, we’re both really enjoying getting up and down and helping our wingers. And our wingers have been doing just as much work coming back as they have been going forward.”
His understanding with Bennett is clearly only deepening with every passing game – and, indeed, training session.
“The more you play with someone on your wing, the more you get an understanding. And it’s not just from playing the games together; obviously we train together, as well,” he said. “So the more that we play together, the better we’re going to get over time.”
Both have been bitten by the Lambert bug, it would appear. No-one gives up. Not till the final whistle sings.
“We never seem to give up – if we do go down we’ll keep fighting till the end,” he confirmed.
Snap him up…terrorised by Agbonlahor, but he’s still learning and there’s not many in the league with Gabi’ pace.