VIDEO: Whitbread and Johnson sign for Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 14:47 08 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 10 September 2010
Zak Whitbread and Oli Johnson completed their moves to Carrow Road, but that could be it in the January transfer market for Paul Lambert. Both players have signed two-and-a-half-year deals for undisclosed fees, with Johnson, who leaves Stockport, available for Saturday’s game against Exeter, although Whitbread, signed from Millwall, is a little short of match fitness.
Zak Whitbread and Oli Johnson completed their moves to Carrow Road, but that could be it in the January transfer market for Paul Lambert.
Both players have signed two-and-a-half-year deals for undisclosed fees, with Johnson, who leaves Stockport, available for Saturday's game against Exeter, although Whitbread, signed from Millwall, is a little short of match fitness.
It means Lambert has strengthened his obvious weak spot at the back and added competition up front.
And with few signs of players leaving, it means the chances are his transfer window dealings are over for now.
“More than likely” was his conclusion. “You have got to hope that it does.
“The squad wasn't big enough as I have always thought. Zak has played an awful lot of games and Oli is a young one starting off. I saw Zak in my first year at Colchester - the bonus for us is he is a left-footed centre half. He has played the league and knows what it's like and he's played for Liverpool - and that should tell you what standard he is.”
The American-born Whitbread, 25, was raised among the stars at Anfield, where he rubbed shoulders with and learned from Sammy Hyppia before taking his trade to the shop floor at Millwall, turning a loan move into a permanent stay in the summer of 2006.
“I played quite a few games with Sammy,” he said. “He was obviously a top player and someone you can learn bundles from. It was a great learning curve for me at a young age as a centre half - there were some top players around to help me out.
“But I didn't want to just sit about talking about playing with these players, I wanted to try and move on myself and get the opportunity to do as much as I can in the game. It was a great start for me, a great platform and hopefully I can kick on and achieve my own goals.”
Whitbread was born in Texas but spent most of his time in England and consequently holds British and US passports - and, having appeared for the US Under-20s and Under-23s still harbours hopes of making their team for the World Cup in South Africa this summer.
“I said at the start of the season I was aiming for the World Cup,” he said. “I don't think there is any harm in looking at that. Obviously this season with the odd setback it hasn't turned up, but I have half a season to prove myself and you never know - it is something I would like to achieve, definitely.”
Johnson, 22, has the unenviable task of competing for a place in an attack which boast Grant Holt and Chris Martin, aided and abetted by Wes Hoolahan.
“That's what I came here for really,” he said. “I know it's going to be difficult and I'm going to have to perform to get in the team, but I'm willing to be patient ands fight for my chance and I'm really looking forward to it.”
Johnson's footballing upbringing couldn't have been more different to Whitbread's: he missed out on the usual club Academy system and didn't enter pro football until October 2008 when Stockport signed him from Nostell Miners Welfare, from the 10th tier of English football - equivalent to Ridgeons League Division One.
“I class myself as young,” said Johnson, who scored five goals in nine starts in his debut season, after making his debut against a Colchester side then managed by Lambert.
“I've been playing professionally only about 15, 16 months so I think I still have a lot to learn in the game. I think I missed a vital part of my footballing education, but I have come here to learn and improve as a footballer.
“I don't think it's a problem, it's just little things that maybe you miss out through those years out of the game. It is my opportunity to learn those things and I think it will help me improve as a footballer.”