Norwich City a team that can last the pace
City boss Paul Lambert has praised the staying power of his players. Lambert was concerned when he came in last August that fitness levels were causing injuries - and costing points.
City boss Paul Lambert has praised the staying power of his players.
Lambert was concerned when he came in last August that fitness levels were causing injuries - and costing points.
But the hard work on the Colney training fields appear to have paid off, with City clearly a team that can last the pace, even with their backs against the wall.
City have the best second-half record in League One and this year alone have come from behind against Southend, Brighton and Walsall to secure victories in the final 15 minutes, while their late salvos have also earned wins over Exeter and Wycombe - and put the icing on the cake of a 5-0 away win over Colchester.
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It's a record made all the more impressive because rarely has a week gone by when Lambert has not had at least one player in the treatment room.
At the moment, it's Adam Drury, Zak Whitbread, Cody McDonald and Declan Rudd sidelined by injury - with Darel Russell serving the third and final game of his suspension. Both are hazards of the job.
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“You can never tell if somebody is going to get injured or suspended, you don't know, it's in the lap of the Gods when they go out on the pitch and you just hope that everybody gets through it,” said Lambert.
“We knew when we first came in that we might get a couple of injuries due to the fitness levels and that did happen, but we had to do it.”
The statistics prove that Lambert's new methods have worked.
“It has, because, the amount of goals we have scored in the last quarter of games has been huge, so that tells you they are fitter than what they were at the beginning,” he said. “The lads have kept on going for me and they have been brilliant, different class.”
While Drury returned to training on Thursday, the others are still sidelined - but making “good headway”, with Lambert hoping they return in time to bolster his options as the City reaches its climax.
“That's what you are hoping for,” he said. “You are hoping to get everybody fit and trying to keep everybody involved in it and that's hopefully what is happening. Those two are making pretty decent progress and Rusty (Russell), obviously this is his last game tomorrow, so we are making not bad headway.”
Owain Tudur Jones comes into contention after completing his loan spell at Yeovil - today's visitors - with Lambert insisting the midfielder is still part of his plans.
The big picture is simply to get the points this afternoon from a fixture which has featured 10 goals in two meetings this season, City winning 4-0 at Huish Park in the first round of the Carling Cup - Bryan Gunn's last game in charge - and then sharing the spoils in a cracking 3-3 draw in December.
A repeat of last weekend's 1-0 business-like win at Oldham will suit Lambert fine.
“People will say it is the best score you can get,” he said. “It keeps us going. I was delighted with them winning, the game is about winning - you just want to win the game. Yes, we would love to entertain people and all that sort of thing, but Yeovil are a good side - it is a hard game.”