Forster's staying at City to boost promotion bid
Chris Lakey Paul Lambert has brought in just one new face since he came to Carrow Road, but yesterday's agreement to extend goalkeeper Fraser Forster's loan until the end of the season could be a promotion clincher.
Paul Lambert has brought in just one new face since he came to Carrow Road, but yesterday's agreement to extend goalkeeper Fraser Forster's loan until the end of the season could be a promotion clincher.
While many were expecting wholesale changes, Lambert has got the best out of what he's got, with Forster the exception.
Three seasons ago you couldn't move at Colney for goalkeepers - Peter Grant used five of them during the season, and even then couldn't find room for Joe Lewis.
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But Lambert has pretty much stuck with Forster since he came through the door, having allowed Ben Alwnick to return to Spurs and using teenager Declan Rudd sparingly.
Rudd is still on a learning curve, and Lambert has decided that's where he will stay, working with coach Paul Crichton and Forster to avoid any risk-taking with what is essentially an untried prospect.
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Forster now sits at the back of a defence in which Gary Doherty and Jens Berthel Askou are first-choice centre-halves, while Adam Drury is number one left back - and only injury will prevent Jon Otsemobor being the first name pencilled in for the right back slot.
"I think Fraser has been phenomenal for us - eight clean sheets in 12 games," said Lambert. "He has got an understanding with the back four and he's performing really well.
"Declan is just a young one who has only played a few games so we just had to have somebody who's played a higher amount of games to try and see it through.
"There would be nothing worse than bringing another goalkeeper in January time and things started to go wrong.
"You need a presence - some of his saves, I see him making even in training, you think, 'how's he got them?' He's only 21 years of age and goalkeepers can play for a length of time in their careers."
Lambert said Newcastle boss Chris Hughton was "very helpful" - and while Newcastle also gave the
21-year-old clearance to play in the FA Cup, the message from Tyneside was clear.
"I spoke to Chris yesterday and he was great," said Lambert. "We just came up with a solution that suited all parties really. He was very helpful. But we have no chance of keeping him, the hopes they have got for him."
Forster sees the advantage of continuity.
"Obviously through injuries and that the back four has changed a bit, but at the minute it seems pretty stable," he said. "Hopefully if we can all keep the same players playing then everyone gets to know each other more and more so it makes the game a lot easier.
"I hadn't thought too much about going back to Newcastle, but we managed to get it all sorted and it gives you that sort of stability so you know where you'll be.
"It's nice to get it all sorted out and be here until the end of the season and it should be brilliant to be a part of everything that's happening here.
"I imagine I will be going back to Newcastle, but never say never.
"It's fantastic playing here in front of such big crowds and a great experience for me and playing in a great team as well.
"Hopefully I can do my part and make us push on and maybe get promoted - but that's a long way away."
City will do those promotion hopes a power of good if they can get all three points today against a Southampton side which suffered a
3-1 home defeat by Brighton - coincidentally, City's visitors on Tuesday - last weekend and are struggling to shake off the effects of their 10-point deduction.
Lambert believes that counts for little and simply asks for more of the same.
"They are a good side," he said. "I know they had a points deduction and all that, but they are still a good side.
"You are hoping we can exploit the space - I am sure they will come at us. The onus is on the home team to always make the running, but we are certainly not going to go there and sit and wait for them to do something, we have to go and do what we have been doing of late and that is to win another football match."
City have proved themselves to be a team for all seasons - be it FA Cup ties against non-league sides, at home to the likes of Tranmere, who shut up shop, or at places like Stockport, where home advantage counted for nought.
"I think if you have any aspirations to go through the full season you have to have every sort of armoury there," he said. "You have to fight, at times you have to grind it out, at times you will play fantastic football and it will just flow for you, but you have got to have more or less everything in your make-up to win games. I wish I could play silky football every time, but I know for a fact it just won't happen."