New faces won’t freeze on derby day – Lappin
AUDIO: Simon Lappin is confident a lack of East Anglian derby experience will not hinder Norwich City’s bid to beat their biggest rivals.
Only four of the Canaries’ squad have played for the club against Ipswich Town – Lappin, Adam Drury, Wes Hoolahan and Chris Martin – while Korey Smith was an unused substitute on the last visit to Portman Road in April 2009.
With Drury ruled out by a calf problem and midfielder Smith doubtful with an ankle injury, few of Paul Lambert’s side will have graced the occasion before stepping out for the sell-out Championship match at Carrow Road (1.15pm).
But Lappin, who first appeared in the fixture in November 2007 when he was Sky TV’s choise of man of the match in a 2-2 draw, does not believe prior experience of the cross-border skirmish is essential.
“It’s new to some of the boys but they will have played in other derbies, I would think, so they know what to expect,” he said.
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“They know it’s going to be a really tough game and we need to be at the top of our game again to get anything from it.
“They will have played in rival games elsewhere and with such a great atmosphere I’m sure they’re all looking forward to it.”
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Town are, in any case, in a similar position with only four survivors in their squad from season 2008-09, when the two sides last met, and only two of them – David Norris and Jaime Peters – likely to be involved.
Midfielder Lappin, currently operating at left-back in the absence of Drury and Steven Smith, who has a hip injury, urged his team-mates to play the game rather than the occasion.
He said: “All the boys are the same, eager to get going, but you need to treat it as another game. You can’t lose focus on what it actually is – just another game of football.
“You’ve seen the younger ones who have been in and about the first team. They know what every game requires and they keep focused on the job in hand – not get carried away with the occasion.”
Lappin admits his current role at left-back is “not my first choice” but he added: “If the manager asks you to do a job anywhere on the pitch you have to go and do it
“Even last year Adam Drury had to play right-back, which I know wouldn’t suit him, but he went out there and did the job and it’s the same for me. I’ve played there on a few occasions. I’d prefer to play further forward but I’ve got a job to do and I’ve just got to get on with it and keep working hard at it.”
With midfielder Matthew Gill sidelined by a calf injury, Stephen Hughes still out after ankle surgery and Korey Smith a case of “wait and see”, on-loan Henri Lansbury could make the starting line-up after arriving from Arsenal.
Said Lambert: “We needed somebody to come in. I’ve seen Henri play a few times and he’s a very talented footballer, that’s for sure. I think he can cover a few areas. He’s comfortable with the ball.”
Lambert would have no reservations about picking the 20-year-old, who scored for Arsenal against Tottenham in a Carling Cup derby this season.
“I don’t have a fear at all because he’s played at a really high level at the club he’s at, playing in front of thousands. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, with him.
“He’s only a young lad with his career in front of him but technically very, very good.”