Lambert prepares to ring the changes for Cup clash
Manager Paul Lambert has made no secret of his intention to make wholesale changes for Norwich City’s Carling Cup second round tie at home to MK Dons tonight.
Few, if any, of the 11 players who started Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Stoke City in the Premier League will be in the starting line-up against the League One leaders at Carrow Road (7.45pm).
“There will be changes, there’s no doubt. We can’t turn around that quick,” said Lambert. “The lads who played on Sunday had a physical game and a hard game, so the squad is big enough to change it around and that’s what I will continue to do.
“It’s unlikely that the lads who played on Sunday will play, but the team I put out will be really strong.”
Despite that admission, the City boss is confident he can field a side strong enough to win the tie, which must be decided tonight, with extra time and penalties if necessary.
The Canaries have not reached the third round of the competition since 2007, but Lambert said: “If we’re in it we have to go and try to win the game. We are duty bound.
“We have a big crowd coming so we’ll do everything we can to win the game. That’s the way I’ve always viewed things.”
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An overhaul of his side could well mean a first competitive game since January for 20-year-old goalkeeper Declan Rudd, if Lambert rests Sunday’s spot-kick hero, John Ruddy.
“There’s a chance of it. I’ll confirm it all later on. I don’t have a problem about throwing Declan in. I never have done since I’ve been here, so it doesn’t bother me,” said Lambert.
“He did well in the pre-season games, but competitive games are a different matter. You have to handle it and handle the occasion which I’m sure he would do.”
Others yet to make a senior appearance this season who could feature tonight are midfielders Korey Smith and Simon Lappin and striker Aaron Wilbraham, with the possibility that some of the younger professionals could be included in the 18.
“There may be one or two, but the squad’s strong enough and big enough that I can do what I want,” he said.
MK Dons took four points from the Canaries in League One two seasons ago and after reaching last season’s play-offs, Karl Robinson’s men now lead their division. “Karl’s done great, MK Dons are sitting at the top of the table at the minute and it’s a hard game,” said Lambert.
“I know what it’s like when you get knocked out. MK Dons will have nothing to lose. They’ll come to a lovely stadium, the pitch is great, but that’s the nature of the game when a so-called bigger team plays against a lower side. But we have to put that aside and go and win.”
A gap of two divisions between the sides illustrates what City have achieved in so short a time.
Said Lambert: “It just shows you the magnitude of what’s happened at this football club, that we’ve done what we’ve done and we’re competing against Wigan and Stoke and next week Chelsea.”
Birmingham’s Carling Cup triumph last season demonstrated that the competition is not the preserve of the big clubs.
“Yes, but I wouldn’t want to get relegated,” said Lambert.
“It was a terrific achievement for Birmingham, it really was.
“But I’m pretty sure if you asked the people there, they would sacrifice that for staying in the league.”