Lambert’s men kicking off at Emerald Park
The countdown to Norwich City’s Premier League kick-off begins almost on their own doorstep tomorrow – with Gorleston boss Richard Daniels and his players determined to enjoy the moment.
Paul Lambert takes his first team squad to Emerald Park (3pm) for the Canaries’ first pre-season friendly, just four weeks before they make their eagerly-awaited return to top-flight action at Wigan Athletic.
For Daniels, whose team won the Ridgeons League Division One title last season, it is an occasion to savour.
He said: “Norwich City are massive news around here and it’s a real honour to play them after the season they have had.
“When you take into account what they have achieved in two years, for them to come to Emerald Park is a big coup for the club.
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“The players are looking forward to it, if not to chasing the ball around for 90 minutes.
“Speaking as an Ipswich fan, you have to admire what Paul Lambert has achieved – it’s been phenomenal.
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“And Norwich won promotion from the Championship by playing football. They’re not going to play a long-ball game.”
After two weeks back in training, City’s meeting with the Greens represents their first public appearance of the summer before flying to Germany for a week’s training camp and two warm-up matches.
“They are sending a first team squad, which is a real honour, and I’m very proud for our president, Jimmy Jones,” said Daniels.
“The committee have worked tirelessly for something like this to come about. The chairman, Reg Cadmore, and committee have put in a huge amount of work, and it’s all credit to them and, of course, the players – because getting this friendly is due to what they did last season in winning the title.
“To be honest, I’m a bit fearful about what the final score could be. I reckon Norwich’s extra fitness could tell in the first 10 minutes, let alone over 90 minutes. But our pre-season really starts with our friendly at Fakenham on Tuesday night.
“Tomorrow is just a massive bonus for everyone. I want to get all the players involved, I want them to enjoy the day and the score doesn’t really matter.”
City are expected to have most of their new signings on show, although Lambert has said he will not rush winger Anthony Pilkington back into action as he continues his recovery from the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered at Huddersfield in March.
The Greens plan to field a different line-up in each half, with their title-winning team appearing in the first 45 minutes, but some new signings taking the field after the break. Eddie Thompson will captain the Greens in the first half and Darren Cockrill in the second.
Daniels has had what he describes as a “fairly busy” summer preparing for the club’s return to the Ridgeons League Premier Division after a six-year absence.
New recruits likely to face City include Christy Finch, on a three-month loan from Lowestoft, Ollie King from Wroxham, Ian Morgan and Scott Woodgate from Dereham, James Pipe from Woodbridge, Liam Harvey-Cooper from Norwich United, Taz Grint from Kirkley & Pakefield, and John Bell, who has re-signed for the club.
Daniels reckons his most important signing, however, is in the management team. Former Kirkley joint manager Stuart Larter has joined Daniels and assistant Mike Derbyshire as the Greens’ new first team coach.
Tickets for the Canaries’ game at Gorleston are on sale at Emerald Park today from 3.30pm to 7pm, priced �15 (�10 concessions). A limited number will be on sale on the gate tomorrow.
Despite the gulf in status, the Gorleston boss is hoping his side can match the Canaries in at least one respect this season.
“The one thing Paul Lambert always talks about is the team spirit they have and if there is one thing we can try to emulate it is that,” said Daniels. “Mick Chapman at Lowestoft told me when I took this job that the first thing to do was get a real team spirit, and we certainly have that.”