Lambert is facing some crucial calls

Chris Lakey Paul Lambert promised to give every Norwich City player a clean slate, a chance to impress - and with time running out before the end of the transfer window he will be hoping to have graded a squad to see him through until the new year.

Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert promised to give every Norwich City player a clean slate, a chance to impress - and with time running out before the end of the transfer window he will be hoping to have graded a squad to see him through until the new year.

The new City boss made six changes for his debut game at Carrow Road - and then another half a dozen for Monday's Carling Cup tie against Sunderland, the timing of which forced his hand to some extent.

So who's among the wheat and who's down there with the chaff?


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Presumably most of last week's performers who helped City put a positive figure in the win column for the first time this season came away with decent marks.

But what of those from Monday night, when the two-division gulf between Premier League and League One was so obvious?

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Gary Doherty, Simon Whaley, Owain Tudur Jones, Wes Hoolahan, Luke Daley and, to a lesser extent, Tom Adeyemi might have preferred to have been in batch one, when City thumped a very poor Wycombe side 5-2. Instead, they were rubbing shoulders with football's millionaires, most of whom would command transfer fees that would outstrip the collected value of the City squad.

There are one or two certainties for those wishing to have a punt at the team which will line up at Hartlepool tomorrow. Ben Alnwick, always assuming his facial injury clears up, will start in goal: Michael Theoklitos hasn't been in either of Lambert's squads, with teenager Declan Rudd on the bench both times.

Grant Holt has led by example from the front and will do so again - there's no doubt he has it in him to break through the 20 league goals barrier this season for the first time since Chris Sutton in 1993-94.

The next selections become a little more difficult

With Rhoys Wiggins still sidelined, Adam Drury would appear to be the best bet at left-back, although Simon Lappin has now started at left midfield and left-back and done well both times. You can't look past Jon Otsemobor at right-back, although Michael Spillane's suspension helps him in the short term - long-term it may be different.

In the middle you'd expect to see Doherty and Jens Berthel Askou - Spillane's absence again answering a question this weekend but posing a new one when he returns.

Matt Gill and Owain Tudur Jones haven't overly impressed in centre midfield, but Stephen Hughes, Korey Smith and Adeyemi have, while on the flanks it's either Paul McVeigh or Simon Whaley on the right and Wes Hoolahan or Lappin on the left.

On form, you'd probably say McVeigh and Lappin - certainly on the evidence of last Saturday.

So who partners Holt? He seems to looks more comfortable with Cody McDonald or Jamie Cureton alongside him, with Luke Daley promising but inexperienced and Chris Martin not quite hitting the heights yet.

So who are the forgotten few?

Michael Nelson started the Colchester game, but hasn't featured since and while he'd love to break back at Hartlepool, where he finished last season, it might have to be the bench again. Goran Maric would be happy with that: most of Carrow Road's regular followers have yet to see the Serbian striker in action - and they may have to wait a while longer.

If you were picking a squad judging on Lambert's first two games you'd probably want to include Spillane, but without him how about …

Alnwick; Otsemobor, Doherty, Askou, Drury; McVeigh, Smith, Hughes, Lappin; Holt, McDonald. Subs: Rudd, Nelson, Adeyemi, Cureton, Whaley, Hoolahan, Tudur Jones.

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