City boss Paul Lambert has warned the Norfolk public not to take Premier League basement boys Wigan lightly, with Roberto Martinez’s men next up at Carrow Road in front of the Sky cameras this Sunday.
With the Canaries sitting nicely in mid-table and Wigan rock bottom, many have this down as a home banker. But with three defeats on the bounce, Norwich will just be keen to get back to winning ways – however they do it.
And Lambert has plenty of respect for his opposite number Martinez, despite many tipping the Latics to be one of the certainties for the drop.
“Roberto’s done great, it’ll be a tough game,” said the City manager, speaking to Canaries Player at this morning’s Colney press conference.
“Everybody expects Wigan to turn up and lose but I know in my own head that it’s going to be really tough and the lads know the same.
“They are still an established Premier League side with some really good players and this is all still new for us. But we’re playing well enough to win.
“You try and win, it’s the same as any game, and that’s what we’ll try and do. It’s a tough game and it’s going to be one of the hardest ones we’re going to face.”
The City squad have spent this week in Spain, as they did last season, but rather than seeing it as a way to stop the ‘rot’ of three defeats in a row – against Leicester, Manchester United and Stoke – Lambert viewed it as a good opportunity to let his players have some sun on their backs and a change of scenery.
“Yeah, we went away,” he continued. “The lads worked really hard and we hope they came back refreshed and are ready for Sunday.
“We did it last year as well and I felt it was a major help to us. I think the weather has been really poor here, they went and got some sun but they worked really hard, which is the most important thing.
“Defeats can happen – especially in this league. We played really well against Manchester United and lost at the death.
“At Stoke we never looked like scoring, but neither did they and that had 0-0 written all over it. But there is certainly no issue with confidence and we will re-group.”
In team news ahead of the 4pm Sunday kick-off, Lambert revealed that Daniel Ayala is still struggling with his hamstring strain and that Marc Tierney (knee) and striker James Vaughan (hamstring) are also absentees.
But January signing Jonny Howson will be better for last weekend’s run out against Stoke after a lengthy spell on the sidelines and he could well start again against the DW Stadium club this weekend.
“I thought Jonny did really fine. He’s been out for a long time and as I’ve said before, he’s going to be a really good player. It was a really hard game to play in [at Stoke], the way the game is up there, but he did really fine, like they all did.
“I know in my own head what team will probably start but I’ll wait until Sunday [before telling you],” Lambert added.
The corresponding fixture was, of course, City’s 2011/12 Premier League debut and it’s fair to say that the Canaries are a better outfit now than they were back in August. New players have had time to bed in and the team have acclimatised to the biggest league in world football.
Norwich chief Lambert is quite rightly proud of what his side have achieved so far.
“I don’t think anyone envisaged what would happen – it’s been incredible what the lads have done. I’ve got nothing but admiration for the way the team has gone about it and we’ve always been in the game, whoever we’ve played.
“We haven’t let ourselves down, always making a fight of it, and from where the lads have come from, they deserve every bit of credit coming their way.”