Lambert wants a fortress of fear

Michael Bailey Seven successive home wins have returned the fortress to Carrow Road - and now Paul Lambert wants visiting teams to feel beaten before they step out in front of the Norwich City faithful.

Michael Bailey

Seven successive home wins have returned the fortress to Carrow Road - and now Paul Lambert wants visiting teams to feel beaten before they step out in front of the Norwich City faithful.

The Canaries' rise up the League One table has been built off an unbeaten home run that stretches back to the opening day of the season and their 7-1 shocker against Lambert's Colchester United on August 8.

Since then City have won eight, scored 28 and conceded just eight times in 10 league matches.

Boxing Day will see Lambert's side welcome last season's beaten play-off finalists Millwall (12.45pm), who escaped with a 4-4 draw from the Canaries' promotion rivals Charlton at the weekend, despite playing almost an hour with 10 men.

And the City boss is hoping the fear factor for opposing teams will help tame the Lions.

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He said: “What you try and do is beat people before they come in your front door. You try and intimidate people or teams to think if they're going to go away with something they are going to have to play really well to beat us.

“All the great teams have that intimidation about them before they even go out, and that's what you try and build up here. The crowd are on top of you - but sometimes it's easier to play against the crowd than what it is with them, because you don't have a fear factor and you think 'I can't hear my crowd shouting at me, it's all on the Norwich side'.

“Players can either thrive on that or buckle under it, and thankfully a lot of teams have not been able to handle it.” City's home gates, which have averaged more than 24,000 at Carrow Road this season, may be large in number but they are also high in expectation - something Lambert has no problem with.

He said: “The crowd can work against you, because if another team gets a corner you can hear the grumbling. If another team gets about three passes, you think 'my god'.

“I know what it's like. You're only as good as your last pass here, and it's a great thing to have because if you make one bad pass I'm pretty sure you won't try and do it again, because you can hear the grumblings of it.

“It's a great thing to have, the pressure on your shoulders and 25, 000 on your back willing you on. It's how you perform to your maximum.

“You've got to win more games than not at home to give yourself any sort of chance and coming here, the fan base the club has got is incredible and you see it.

“You're getting people coming in their droves. I can't remember which opposition manager said to me, but coming down to our game he said he could tell it was a proper game they were coming into, because you very rarely get these sort of crowds and the teams coming here can either thrive on it or buckle under it.”

The Canaries manager has a central defensive headache with two games in the space of three days over the festive period - a trip to Walsall following Saturday's League One cracker.

Free scoring Gary Doherty - who has four goals in his last three appearances - will serve a one-match ban on Saturday after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Huddersfield at the weekend, while Jens Berthel Askou is sidelined by a foot injury sustained in the 3-3 draw at Yeovil.

With Michael Spillane still recovering from a hamstring injury, Lambert has only one central defender available - Michael Nelson - and may have to fill the void next to him with one of his full-backs - most likely Adam Drury, Jon Otsemobor or Russell Martin.

“We need to look somewhere, we'll have to look at something along those lines,” said Lambert.

“Saturday's a tough game, really tough. But we're at home and playing really well at the minute, and if we can keep playing the way we have been and the crowd are right on our side, we're a formidable team.

“Jens will be out for a little bit, I think looking at it; he'll be a few weeks away,” added Lambert, who hopes midfielder Korey Smith will be quicker returning from his thigh injury picked up at Huish Park.

“Korey will be a bit quicker than that but Jens is the one that's doubtful.

“I've got 4,000 centre midfielders and three centre halves - it's quite good that. Well thought out.”

The Norwich boss added his remaining injured trio - Luke Daley (thigh), Declan Rudd (knee) and Owain Tudur Jones (groin) - are all progressing well but are still some way from a first team return.