Lambert: There's room for everyone
David Cuffley Norwich City boss Paul Lambert insists he will force none of his current players out of the door at Carrow Road as he continues to rebuild his squad for Championship football.
Norwich City boss Paul Lambert insists he will force none of his current players out of the door at Carrow Road as he continues to rebuild his squad for Championship football.
Lambert offloaded five out-of-contract men at the end of last season, including the 30-plus trio of defender Gary Doherty and forwards Jamie Cureton and Paul McVeigh.
But the City boss still has senior players under contract who featured very little in his first team plans during the League One title-winning campaign.
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The arrival of four new signings in a fortnight - Colchester midfielder David Fox becoming the latest recruit on Friday - has underlined Lambert's intention to overhaul his side for football at a higher level.
And with Andrew Crofts, signed from Brighton, and Fox bolstering the midfield contingent, two of last year's summer signings could find it harder still to secure first team football.
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Norfolk-born midfielder Matthew Gill started just two League One matches after Lambert's arrival as manager, while Wales international Owain Tudur Jones did not make a league appearance at all under Lambert.
Tudur Jones, 25, spent time on loan at Yeovil, while Gill, 29, who was a regular member of the 18 but seldom saw action, has been linked with Wycombe Wanderers since the end of the season.
The signing of Rangers left-back Steven Smith further reduces the likelihood of first team involvement for 22-year-old Rhoys Wiggins, who helped Bournemouth to promotion from League Two during a successful loan spell and could be in line for a permanent move to Dean Court.
Tudur Jones has two years left on his Carrow Road contract, while Gill and Wiggins are halfway through two-year deals.
But Lambert said he was not pushing anyone out.
He said: “I'm bringing in lads to help the current group that are here, because the current group were absolutely terrific for me. They deserve every opportunity to go up the league. I'm not forcing anybody out of the door whatever.
“But as a football club we're going to have to step up, not just as individuals but as a team. That's all I'm doing - bringing in people to give the current group a hand.
“They deserve a shot at it and they need to be put under pressure to perform, as does everybody.
“I still know who I want to try to bring in and I'll try to do it.
“We're really lucky to bring in four lads at the minute and there are still certain areas we'd like to try to strengthen. It's going to be a massive season in a hard, hard league to be in, but we'll do our best to do well.”
One midfield vacancy could be created if Darel Russell, out of contract after three years back at Carrow Road, turns down a new deal.
Russell has been offered terms but is also reported to be a target for Leeds United, who were promoted with the Canaries.
Lambert said “nothing has changed” over 29-year-old Russell's position, with the offer still on the table - but wants to put pressure on whichever of his existing players is still here next season.
He said: “We were fortunate in a lot of the games last season when the team picked itself and Rusty was absolutely terrific as was everybody else, but they need a hand.
“I've always said that to perform to your best you've got to have people breathing down your neck.
“If you don't have it and you look over your shoulder and there's nobody competing with you, you become complacent and the game becomes a little bit easy.
“That's what I try to do, I try to put people under pressure to perform. It's not rocket science.
“The lads that I brought in have to do the same to the ones that are already here, and vice-versa. You have to push each other to the limit and hope, at the end of the day, you win more games than not.”