Lambert aims to keep players on their toes

Chris Lakey Paul Lambert has warned his players not to get into a comfort zone as more questions are raised about the futures of two of his out-of-favour senior players.

Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert has warned his players not to get into a comfort zone as more questions are raised about the futures of two of his out-of-favour senior players.

Former Canaries defender Malky Mackay could rescue midfielder Wes Hoolahan - once again noticeable by his absence from Lambert's squad at the weekend - from his exile this week.

Mackay has already been linked with another absentee - central defender Gary Doherty - and is expected to make a move for one or both when the loan window opens.

Lambert watched his side struggle to a goalless draw against Walsall on Saturday and later said he would try and do business in the loan window - in and out - in an effort to keep his squad on their toes.

“You get in a comfort zone,” he said. “If you think you are just going to be guaranteed a place all the time it's dangerous, but if you get into a comfort zone and can't look over your shoulder then you're in trouble as a footballer and this club needs to be in the frame, and that's what we will try and do.

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“We will try and give them a bit of help if we can, if it's possible to do it.

“There was a major turnaround - was it 13 players in and 17 out? - which is a monumental amount of players to leave a football club and a big number to come in.”

Darel Russell was expected to leave during the summer, but has worked his way into Lambert's squad in the past week, just as Hoolahan and Doherty have been sidelined.

Lambert says the exit door is open.

“Yes - if somebody comes in for them,” he said.

“If somebody comes in for them and I think it is worthwhile, especially for the young ones, they know I'll look at it.”

Mackay says four deals fell through on transfer deadline day last Tuesday - coincidentally, Lambert admitted he was frustrated when deals collapsed at the same time - but says he will try and bring “another three in”.

“The recruitment process doesn't stop today once the window closes,” he said.

“We want to bring in players who want to better their careers and not just a journeyman who is looking to fill the last part of his career here. I do not advocate that at all. We didn't want to buy someone and then regret it for the next three years.”

A solitary point it may have been against Walsall, but Paul Lambert belies it could prove valuable in the long run.

“I think a draw was probably fair,” conceded the City boss. “We never did enough to win it, but we certainly didn't deserve to lose it.

“It was probably more dogged than spectacular. If you said to me three weeks ago when we came in you'd take seven points out of nine you'd have taken it.

“I am a great believer that if you are not going to win it, if it is not going to be your given day, you make sure you don't lose it.

“At the end of the season, that might be a big, big point, you just don't know. After what happened to this football club a few weeks ago, it's gone through some unbelievable things.

“Honestly, there are a lot of positives - a point I am not going to moan about because sometimes that point just might be huge.

“The club was dead on its feet a few weeks ago and it needed to have a little bit of a run at it which we've done.”

Walsall haven't won since the opening day, but they made life difficult for City.

“Sometimes it's harder to play with the crowd than to play against it,” said Lambert.

“It's easier to come here and play without a fear because nobody expects anything.

“I know exactly what it's like, the lads have got to make the running at home and that's why they're here.

“We have to earn the right, they are not just going to turn up, Walsall, and say, 'here you go, take the ball and do what you want with it'. They are going to make it hard, which they did do.”

It's three clean sheets in a row for City now, but while Lambert praised Fraser Forster, the on-loan keeper had little to do bar some routine saves.

“He's going to have a massive career,” said Lambert.

“I think he's going to be a big, big plus for Newcastle.

“As I said before, he wasn't too far away from being involved in the Newcastle first team.

“He has the stature for the game, he's got the presence for it and I think he's going to have a terrific career.”