Lambert refused to give up in chase for Jackson
Paddy Davitt Norwich City boss Paul Lambert has revealed latest capture Simeon Jackson was always his prime close season transfer target. Lambert was quick off the mark to sign Elliott Ward, Andrew Crofts and Steven Smith within days of last season's League One title triumph, but the City chief had to bide his time to recruit the Gillingham hot shot.
Norwich City boss Paul Lambert has revealed latest capture Simeon Jackson was always his prime close season transfer target.
Lambert was quick off the mark to sign Elliott Ward, Andrew Crofts and Steven Smith within days of last season's League One title triumph, but the City chief had to bide his time to recruit the Gillingham hot shot.
The 23-year-old could make his first competitive City outing in tonight's pre-season friendly at League Two newcomers Stevenage (7.45pm). Jackson linked up with Lambert's squad at their German training base after completing his protracted move from the Priestfield, which also saw Cody McDonald move in the opposite direction on a season long loan.
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The Canadian striker has yet to make a pre-season appearance having been omitted from the Gills' first few friendly outings but is expected to feature in one of City's two games this week at Stevenage or Dagenham. Lambert is likely to mix and match his squad for games against lower league opposition ahead of Saturday's higher profile Carrow Road return against Newcastle.
Fringe first teamers Owain Tudur Jones, Matty Gill and Jens Berthel Askou are poised to supplement Lambert's senior training party alongside young professionals George Francomb and Josh Dawkin. The quintet featured in local friendlies last week against King's Lynn Town and Norwich United.
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Suggestions Coventry defender Martin Cranie could be another summer arrival may be wide of the mark, and Lambert hinted Jackson could be the final part of his pre-season planning.
“It had been going on for a few months and we kept trying and thankfully he is here now and hopefully he can come in and put pressure on the ones we already have,” said Lambert. “He's quick, he's a goal scorer and his ratio for Gillingham last season was terrific and it's an opportunity for him to go higher. Hopefully he can fit in with the group. That is more or less it now, you can never say never between now and when the window closes, but the group is really good now - really strong and we've trained really hard.
“For Cody it was the same situation as Tom (Adeyemi) going to Bradford. They can go and play regular games and it can only benefit their development. Cody was in and around the first team at times last season and he scored some vital goals for us, but it's important he gets a run of games now and Gillingham can offer that to him because he came out of non league football, which people should remember.”
Lambert will use City's pre-season friendly programme to fine tune his starting line up for the Championship kick off against Watford after a successful German trip.
“It's good because it's a change of environment in terms of training,” said Lambert, on the club's official site. “They've worked really hard morning and afternoon and it's also a chance for the boys to bond together off the pitch and they have done. It has certainly been worthwhile that is for sure. These games coming up now are all geared for us to be ready for August 6 - that is the main objective. If we can hit the ground running on the Friday night, that is what matters to me.”
Stevenage boss Graham Westley is using pre-season games against the Canaries, Millwall and Watford to gear up for their historic football league bow after winning the Conference Premier title.
“Any match against teams from a higher division will give you a good chance to test yourself,” he said. “We played Millwall last year and that was a good game for us and we did well and I'm sure this time will be no different. There are times in games during the regular season when you have to chase the ball down so in that respect it's not a problem but there's no reason why we should find ourselves in that position against Norwich and Millwall and I'm sure they will be enjoyable matches. The aim of pre-season is to ensure the squad gets itself match fit and I want a team that's going to be capable of wining the opening game of the season.”