Norwich City manager is happy to have a break from action
Norwich City are heading into their first international break in almost 18 months thanks to their Championship return – and boss Paul Lambert acknowledged he will be glad for the extra time to work with his players.
The Canaries have tended to enjoy mixed fortunes either side of the free domestic weekends in the past, but that was something they did not need to worry about last season; League One ignores the international calendar, and City made the most of an uninterrupted season by heading for the third tier summit and another go at the second tier.
Promotion in April restored the norm this season of regular pauses for Fifa’s international schedule, something that will be a completely new phenomenon for Lambert – as a manager, at least – once City negotiate a tricky looking trip to highly fancied Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
And while Lambert joked he will be off on holiday for two weeks, the break will at least allow Norwich to iron out any early deficiencies in their decent start to life back in the Championship.
“Yeah, yeah it’s great – it’s a great job until you have a match, this,” joked Lambert.
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“I think from a player’s point of view it is good, because we’ve had a lot of games and I think we’ve only had one week where we have been sparse, where we have had a free week, and the rest of the weeks we have played.
“I know as a player it is welcome, unless you are an international and you have got to keep going. As a manager it is the first time for myself, because obviously in League One they don’t have the break, but I can understand why it happens.”
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The break will at least give some added recuperation time to Zak Whitbread and Steven Smith, who have been out of action since the early throws of pre-season with respective calf and ankle injuries.
Lambert is hopeful both will be in contention for City’s next competitive outing – the visit of Barnsley to Carrow Road on Saturday, September 11.
Of course, some of Lambert’s squad will be utilising the international break for its actual purpose – playing international football. Striker Simeon Jackson has been called into the Canada squad for friendlies against Peru, in Montr�al a week today, and Honduras – fresh from this summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa – in Toronto the following Tuesday.
Young goalkeeper Jed Steer was due to join up with England’s Under-19 squad ahead of a friendly against Slovakia Under-19s on Thursday until injury forced him to withdraw from the squad.
But City midfielder Andrew Crofts could feature for Wales after his call up for their first Euro 2012 qualifier, against Montenegro, at the City Stadium in Podgorica on Friday.
The 26-year-old came on as a late substitute for David Cotterill in the 5-1 friendly win over Luxembourg at the start of August in Llanelli – the 14th cap of his career – and Crofts knows keeping up his impressive early season form at Norwich will do his international chances the world of good, especially having made the step into the Championship from League One Brighton in the summer.
“Definitely, the main thing is to play well for Norwich City and then, if I’m doing that, then to get the call is great so hopefully I keep doing well,” said Crofts, who enjoyed getting his Wales late run out, days after scoring his first competitive goal for Norwich, in their season opening defeat to Watford. “It was good, nice to get another cap and obviously to represent your country is a good honour and hopefully I can get some more. Playing well for Norwich will hopefully help me in the future as well.”
Crofts is certainly not worried about missing out on the break his City colleagues will enjoy.
“It’s part and parcel off football really, it’s an honour to represent your country anyway,” he added.