Lambert plays it cool on whether Wes will feature
Manager Paul Lambert was giving nothing away about the fitness of star forward Wes Hoolahan as Norwich City prepared for tonight’s promotion battle with Swansea City.
The Irishman missed the final half-hour of last week’s 6-0 win over Scunthorpe after hobbling off with a hamstring problem.
The City boss said yesterday that Hoolahan had not trained and said he planned to “have a chat” with him before making a decision on whether he would travel.
But with the manager admitting he already knew his starting 11, it may indicate that one of his top performers will not be risked with three games in seven days this week.
“I know the team that will start. The lads did well last weekend but you try to pick the best team that you think is going to win a game,” said Lambert. “That’s what I’ll try and do and that is all I have ever done since I have been here. You can’t please all the people all the time but that is management, I think.”
Striker Chris Martin, out for the past eight weeks with hamstring trouble, is back in full training and could come under consideration: “Chris is training with us and has done fine but he’s not played for a long time so I’ll have to wait and see what I think,” said Lambert.
Swansea were beaten 2-0 at Carrow Road in August when John Ruddy atoned for conceding a late penalty by saving David Cotterill’s spot-kick, before Ashley Williams’ own goal and Simeon Jackson’s first goal for the Canaries sealed victory. But the Swans made a good impression with their style of play.
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“They were excellent, very, very good, so we are under no illusions how hard it is going to be. I think they have been a good side for a right good number of years now,” said Lambert.
“They’ve been established in it now and just missed out on the play-offs last year under Paulo Sousa. We are new to it so the advantage Swansea have over us is that they are established in it, but I think we have moved on considerably since that game. We’re a different team.”
City’s rivals will all have finished their matches by the time they kick off at the Liberty Stadium, but other results will not influence Lambert’s approach to the game.
“I’m not going to turn teletext on. I can’t influence what’s happening elsewhere. All I can concentrate on is what’s happening to Norwich,” he said.
“I’ll know the scores but it’s not going to prey on my mind or anything. I was never like that, so I’m not going to change now.
“We won’t be going for a draw. That doesn’t enter my head. What does enter my head is that if you can’t win the game then make sure you don’t lose it. I know how hard it’s going to be, they’re a right top side. They have passed people off the pitch for fun this season and if we don’t start properly they’ll do the same to us.”
Norwich City: (from) Ruddy, Russell Martin, Ward, Whitbread, Tierney, Fox, Crofts, Surman, Hoolahan, Pacheco, Holt, Lansbury, Vokes, Jackson, Drury, Edwards, Korey Smith, Lappin, Chris Martin, Rudd.