Lambert still hopeful over striker target
Chris Lakey Dereham Town 0, Norwich City 3: Norwich City begin work at their private training camp in Germany this morning with manager Paul Lambert hoping there's a spare room for a new arrival.
Dereham Town 0, Norwich City 3
Norwich City begin work at their private training camp in Germany this morning with manager Paul Lambert hoping there's a spare room for a new arrival.
The Canaries boss is still in the market for a striker and says he hasn't given up on his main target, widely thought to be Gillingham's Simeon Jackson. Lambert isn't the only manager interested, which has left the Canada international and his club with a few choices - Southampton are the latest to join the auction. But while the trail appears to have gone cold, Lambert is prepared to wait.
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“We tried and it has not materialised at the minute and we will see what happens in the next week,” said Lambert. “It's not gone, we just have to wait and see. We can only do what we can do due to finances - I'll see what we can do.”
Transfer cash is clearly an issue that won't go away for some time, but Lambert was able to play five of his six new singings - and have a look at Korey Smith as possible competition at right-back. Michael Spillane's departure to Brentford has left a hole, but George Francomb - who had a good run-out alongside Zak Whitbread in central defence - could step in, as could Smith, who established himself in midfield last season but played the second half at right-back.
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Lambert said: “We don't have an abundance of money that people think we have and I will have to use what I've got and I don't have any fear whatsoever playing Korey there, or George - it doesn't faze me.”
Lambert used all 24 players who were kitted out at a baking Aldiss Park, with Elliot Ward the only new signing not taking part because of a slight Achilles niggle. It was all change after the break, with a new XI, change of tactics from a 4-3-1-2 formation to 4-4-2 - but any Championship spies among the 2,000-plus crowd had a wasted trip.
“I won't really give much away until it's for real,” said Lambert. “The main thing is to get players fit, that's the object of it and the lads were great again. It's a good run-out and the weather's really warm. As long as everybody comes through it OK, that's the main thing. It's warm, but you have just got to get through it and no matter how much running you do in pre-season, playing games is where you will get your real fitness from.
“They seem OK and we are away tomorrow and we will see how we do. I am happy with the group that were here, happy with the lads that came in and they will give me everything they have got.”
Lambert adjusted last year's tried and trusted formation for the first half with David Fox pulling the strings in the centre of a midfield three, Andrew Crofts to his right, Simon Lappin left and Wes Hoolahan playing as 'the one'. Full-backs Adam Drury and Russell Martin provided the width, with Chris Martin and Grant Holt up front.
Drawing conclusions from match one of pre-season is impossible, but certainly Crofts proved opponents won't have much peace when he's around; Fox and Andrew Surman looked very comfortable with the ball at their feet; left-back Steve Smith bombed forward and goalkeeper John Ruddy proved he has a huge vocal presence - his only other action being a couple of routine saves.
In contrast, both Dereham keepers - Shaun Marshall for the first hour, and John Higgs - kept the scoreline down with some impressive saves, but the Magpies will be more than happy with their contribution; it was a clean game, no mischief, and they acquitted themselves well, especially considering they'd had just three sessions themselves.
Fox was first to show with a shot that drifted away in the early minutes before Ruddy got down well to gather a Danny Beaumont free-kick. Marshall saved from Lappin, then tipped a Crofts volley over and pushed away a close-range shot by Holt, but he had no chance when he spilled a Hoolahan shot. Holt kept the ball alive and Nelson - who had already headed one against the bar - slid the ball home from six yards.
Holt missed the final two games of last season after undergoing ankle surgery but looked sharp - his flying volley on the half-hour deserving more than to slip inches past the post. Chris Martin, Crofts and Nelson went close again but by half-time their job was done. City went to a flat 4-4-2, Stephen Hughes and Surman in the middle, Josh Dawkin and Anthony McNamee on the flanks, Oli Johnson and Cody McDonald up top. City lay siege to the Dereham goal, although Scott Woodgate had Jed Steer scrambling with a fine 25-yarder.
McDonald was denied by Marshall but on 67 minuets he made it 2-0; Surman looked like he'd lost possession in midfield, but managed to keep the ball and then slipped in a lovely pass to McDonald, who turned a defender and flashed a cracking shot into the bottom left-hand corner, leaving Higgs no chance. Three minutes later and McDonald doubled his tally, slipping the ball past Higgs inside the area, but he will be annoyed he didn't make it a hat-trick when he was denied twice by Higgs in the final 10 minutes.
t Dereham: Marshall, Olly Willis, Starling, Gusterson, Eastoe-Smith, Beaumont, Sam Willis, Smith, Reeves, Roberts, Harley. Subs: Higgs, Thompson, Woodgate, Cross, Manning, Wallace, Gilding, Downes, Reeves, King, Brian.
t Norwich City - first half: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Nelson, Askou, Drury, Crofts, Fox, Lappin, Hoolahan, Holt, Chris Martin. Second half: Steer; Korey Smith, Francomb, Whitbread, Steven Smith, Dawkin (Gordon 88), Hughes, Surman, McNamee (Oakley 88), McDonald, Johnson. Goals: Nelson 24, McDonald 67, 70.
t Referee: Michael George
t Attendance: 2,000