Kid Canary keeper Jed Steer looks all set to be granted his home debut tomorrow as City boss Paul Lambert prepares to entertain Championship Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend.
The 19-year-old was the star of the show in the fourth round success at West Bromwich Albion.
And with a place in the last eight of this season’s competition on offer to the winners this weekend, so Lambert might have toed a cautious line and handed the No1 gig back to his Premiership keeper, John Ruddy.
Speaking at Colney this morning, however, and the Canary chief all-but confirmed that the teenager would earn his reward for those Hawthorns heroics by a start in front of the home faithful.
“There’s a good chance that Jed will play,” confirmed Lambert, as he sought to rest and refresh one or two for the Premiership battles ahead.
Last weekend’s compelling 3-2 away win at Swansea City has left Lambert to ponder a few bumps and bruises; one of his biggest decisions will revolve around full-back Kyle Naughton.
Refused permission to play by Spurs for the last two rounds, the on-loan Tottenham star has been granted permission by Harry Redknapp to play in this round. The question now is whether or not to risk him injury-wise after finishing the game at The Liberty almost playing on one leg.
“We’ve got one or two that are carrying little things at the minute,” the manager told the Press at Colney this morning.
“We’ll just see how they are and then I’ll make the decision as to what we’re going to do.”
Adam Drury disappeared with a slight groin strain but with Marc Tierney still ruled out of contention, so Naughton’s availability becomes ever more relevant to filling those full-back slots.
Russell Martin could yet be required to continue at centre-half if Lambert feels it is too much too soon to ask Elliott Ward to carry on where he left off last weekend after such a lengthy injury lay-off. Simon Lappin could yet find himself back in the left-back role for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited clash with the Foxes.
“Elliott Bennett seems to be OK,” said Lambert, offering one other alternative for a full-back slot.
“He seems to be fine, but the team that I put out will be strong. Zak [Whitbread] is doing OK at the minute but this one is just too early for him.”
The one certainty – it would appear – would be an appearance for James Vaughan after the injury-hit striker grabbed his second goal in as many reserve games this week and continued his comeback after being sidelined since September with knee trouble.
“He’s in the squad,” said Lambert. “I think he’s looking a lot better now than what he was a few weeks ago and he done fine against West Brom [for the reserves] and I’ll see how he comes through today. But, yes, he’ll be in the squad.”
It remains a fine balancing act – particularly whilst Premiership survival remains still some five points distant. And, of course, next weekend brings Manchester United to Norfolk.
But this is the best chance that Norwich have had for almost a generation to reach the last eight of the FA Cup – and that cup ‘tradition’ still gets a Canary heart racing.
“You give the cup every respect it deserves,” said Lambert. “There will be some changes in the team, but it won’t be a weakened side – that’s for sure. It’s a game that we will go and try and win – it’s a chance to go and get through.
“I won’t treat it lightly. I will try and go and win it, but I also know – as everybody does – that the Premiership is our main priority.”
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