Lambert’s 25-man Premier League jigsaw is nearly complete
Norwich City manager Paul Lambert admits he is close to completing his squad of 25 senior players for Premier League duty – but hopes there will be at least one more new arrival.
Lambert introduced his three latest recruits – on-loan defender Ritchie De Laet, midfielder Bradley Johnson and winger Anthony Pilkington – to the media at Carrow Road yesterday and admitted he planned to bring in another new face.
“I don’t think you ever stop looking. That’s the nature of the game but there’s no doubt the squad is stronger from the lads that have been brought in,” said the City boss.
“We’ve brought in six at the minute and we’ll try to bring somebody else in but we will have to wait and see. There might be one in the back line that I’m working at.”
Whether back line means another defender or goalkeeper remains to be seen. City must name a Premier League squad of 25 when the transfer window closes at the end of August, though players who were under 21 on January 1 this year – including midfielder Korey Smith and goalkeepers Declan Rudd and Jed Steer – will also be eligible to play, over and above the named 25.
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Pilkington’s arrival on Wednesday means that City have 29 senior players under contract over the age of 21.
The limit of 25 was “something in the back of our minds”, said Lambert, and departures appear inevitable, with striker Luke Daley on trial at League Two club Plymouth with a view to a move.
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“It depends how Luke does himself. There are one or two others I’ve spoken to. We have to wait and see what happens in the next few days or the next week,” said Lambert.
“The lads will know what’s going to happen. With a 25-man squad I can’t pick everybody, but the group that’s sitting there right at this minute I’m very happy with.
“They’re not just good players but good characters and I think that’s important in any dressing room. You have to have good, strong characters. There are times when there are disappointments but as long as they stick together we’ll be fine.
“The new lads have settled in really, really well and the lads who have already been at the club have been every bit as good as they were in the last two years for me. For us to do well or try to get a foothold in the league we need everybody to gel together.”
None of the six new signings was guaranteed a place in the side, said Lambert.
“League One’s gone. What happened in the Championship is gone. That’s in the past. It’s a level playing field for everybody. It’s up to them to get in the side. You cannot guarantee anybody anything in football, that’s for sure. If I did that, I don’t think it would be right.”
Lambert is not setting a comeback target for reported �2m capture Pilkington as the 23-year-old continues his recovery from the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered at Huddersfield in March. “I won’t throw him in right away when he’s not ready. In the long run he’ll be a terrific player for this club,” he said. Pilkington added: “I can’t wait to get fit and get out there. When I first got injured I thought it would be a lot longer but I’ve had some good people around me and now I’ve got some great people and great facilities around me that will help me over the line.”