Norwich City will go all out at Tottenham Hotspur - Paul Lambert
Manager Paul Lambert pledged that Norwich City would “give it a go” against Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane this afternoon (3pm) – well aware that it ranks as one of their toughest Premier League assignments of the season.
The Canaries were beaten 2-0 by Harry Redknapp’s team at Carrow Road in December and will be out to avoid being doubled for only the second time this season.
“It doesn’t get any easier but two years ago we couldn’t smell Tottenham. Now we’re going there so we’ve earned the right to play them,” said Lambert.
“It will be a tough, tough game. Harry’s got a brilliant side – another fantastic manager and they’re fighting for Champions League football. That just shows you.
“Tottenham are up there on merit. They’re a fabulous side, some of the players they have are just outstanding. But we’re going to go there and give it a go. We’re going to have a big crowd ourselves going to the game. We’ll try everything we can.”
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Defender Zak Whitbread is a doubtful starter after missing the 2-2 draw against Everton with what Lambert described as a “calf problem”, while on-loan full-back Kyle Naughton is not eligible to face his parent club. But winger Anthony Pilkington could return after missing three matches with a hamstring injury.
“Pilks has trained the last couple of days. He may come into my thinking,” said Lambert, who also withdrew full-back Adam Drury with 15 minutes to go against the Toffees at Carrow Road.
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“He’s all right. I’ve just got to watch him,” he said.
Lambert was delighted with his players’ performance against Everton as they twice came from behind to take a point – moving them on to 40 for the season.
“I thought it was a brilliant game – it’s as good as I’ve seen here in my time here, in three years. And I thought my team were outstanding because we were up against a really brilliant side, Everton,” he said.
“Considering the calibre of team we were playing, I thought we were relentless at times, the way we played. We played with enthusiasm and hunger, and we had a lot of the ball. You can have all the ball you want, but if you don’t put it in the net then it becomes a problem and we’ve certainly got an end product here.”
Lambert confirmed he had spoken to referee Andre Marriner over the controversial build-up to Everton’s second goal, when Steven Pienaar trapped the ball under his body on the ground, and then the match official appeared to impede Wes Hoolahan.
“I’ve spoken to the referee and I understand his point of view,” said Lambert. “In the heat of the moment you claim for absolutely everything but I think nine times out of 10 that’s a free-kick, probably, to us. What the referee was saying was maybe he got in the way a bit, so I think that’s when everybody stopped. But fair play to Everton, they continued and got the goal.
“I think when the ball is caught between someone’s legs, they blow for a free kick to prevent the player getting stood on. He indicated to me after the game maybe it should have been a drop-ball. It is all very well to say that in hindsight. It is a hard job to be a referee but I am not going to talk about that when I thought my team were excellent.”
Lambert praised newcomers Jonny Howson, who scored his first City goal, and Ryan Bennett, who made his home debut.
“I just said to Jonny Howson it’s one of the best midfield performances I’ve seen,” he said.
“I couldn’t pass like him, that’s for sure. I might have done other things, but he hit a pass in the second half that Iniesta would have been proud of.
“I’m delighted with Ryan, I really am, for a young lad. He doesn’t say much but his performance level the last two games, you wouldn’t have thought he’s only just come and joined us.” You’d think he’s been here for years and years, the way he’s played.”