Lambert’s praise for departing Gill

Paul Lambert paid tribute to the departing Matty Gill as the Norwich City manager completed the first big turn of his summer conveyor belt.

First in is Everton striker James Vaughan, who was presented to the media alongside Lambert at Carrow Road yesterday – having put pen to paper on a �1.5m three-year deal with the Premier League new boys on Friday.

And the City boss confirmed “one or two” other additions are currently being worked on.

But the out-of-contract trio of midfielder Gill, defender Jens Berthel Askou and first-year professional Sam Habergham will not be joining the Canaries in the top flight next season, after Lambert acknowledged they had not been offered new deals.

And Lambert admitted his decision on Fakenham-born Gill – a boyhood City fan who finally got his dream move as a free agent in 2009, after proving himself at Exeter – was a tough moment.

“Gill is away, he will probably look for a new club and Jens as well,” said Lambert. “Gill was brilliant, a top, top pro – I would put him in the same category as Michael Nelson.

“Brilliant for the club he was, he really was, and that was a sore one when you tell him because of the type of lad he is.

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“He was brilliant about the place. An absolutely brilliant pro, as good as I have seen, and that’s the highest compliment I can give him. In the same kind of mould as Nelson. Michael played in a lot of games for us, Gilly in less, but still really important to have around. He was top lad.”

However, Lambert believes his squad will fill the gap left by a player who clearly mattered in the dressing room.

“There are still one or two, there are still lads in there who like a laugh as well, so that will carry it through, but when you lose somebody like that, it’s not as a footballer but as a person; it is difficult – but he will do really fine wherever he gets,” said Lambert.

“Jens as well, never an ounce of a problem – going back to Denmark I take it, or wherever he is going to go – he will make a career for himself.”

Gill, 30, made just 16 appearances for the Canaries – but impressed during a month’s spell at League One Walsall last season and the Saddlers could be a potential destination for the midfielder this summer.

Scottish duo Stephen Hughes and Steven Smith could yet be following Gill and co out of the door, across the border to Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen.

Manager Craig Brown signed Smith on loan last season after the former Rangers left-back failed to settle in Norfolk, and he saw a similar bid for Hughes fail.

Lambert added: “I spoke to Craig about a couple of the lads but at the minute nothing has transpired. Yes, one or two will go, that’s normal, at every football club one or two leave. That is the nature of the game.

“I always have to keep on top of what I’ve got. If lads go then you thank them for their effort, but football moves on.”

Askou, 28, played a significant role in City’s initial League One recovery under Lambert before injury struck, the Dane notching three goals and 33 appearances for the club.

Academy product Habergham, 19, did not get to make a first team outing and was not helped by a string of injury problems.