Lambert not worried over Palace loss

Manager Paul Lambert has urged supporters and reporters alike not to read too much into Norwich City’s pre-season results, insisting: “It will be a totally different game when it starts for real.”

The Canaries suffered their first defeat of the summer when they went down 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, but Lambert used 21 players with only goalkeeper John Ruddy completing the full 90 minutes.

The starting line-up – and quite possibly the formation – will be very different when they face Southend United in their next warm-up fixture at Roots Hall tonight (7.30pm).

And with three more friendlies to play after that, there is still plenty of time for the City boss to settle on his chosen line-up for the first Premier League fixture at Wigan on August 13.

He said after the Palace game: “It was the first time some of them had done an hour and it will be role reversal at Southend.

“I said it the other day about the games in Germany that the score was irrelevant. What really matters is that first game against Wigan. As long as we’re ready for the first game.”

City employed their familiar diamond formation at Selhurst Park but could switch to a different system tonight.

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“They know the system because we have been playing it for the last two years and there may be another different one at Southend. The main priority is to get them up to speed with their fitness levels,” said Lambert.

“I’ve been in the game long enough to know that come the first game of the season it will be totally different to what you see in every friendly game.

“The main priority for me is lads getting game time. We changed virtually the whole team tonight. Come that Wigan game I’ll pick the strongest team I can to try to win the game.”

Striker James Vaughan will miss the next two friendlies with a knee injury, while defender Elliott Ward is sidelined again tonight by a knock he suffered in training.

Midfielder Bradley Johnson was also substituted at half-time at Palace as a precaution, but full-back Adam Drury could make his first pre-season appearance either tonight or at Coventry on Saturday after shaking off a calf injury.

One plus point at Palace was the performance of on-loan defender Ritchie De Laet, whose speed and close control in tight situations at centre-back took the eye.

Said Lambert: “He’s only a young lad but he’s very, very quick. He played for Portsmouth at right-back and he’s played for Manchester United at left-back and centre-back. I know he can fit anywhere across the back four.”