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Hutchings is happy to sing the praises of Lambert

PUBLISHED: 10:49 26 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:43 02 July 2010

Walsall manager Chris Hutchings has admitted he is a fan of Norwich City manager, Paul Lambert. Hutchings will come up against the former Celtic player in the opposite dugout at the Banks's Stadium tonight, hoping to inflict a first league defeat on City since the last minute heartbreak at Leeds United on October 17.

Walsall manager Chris Hutchings has admitted he is a fan of Norwich City manager, Paul Lambert.

Hutchings will come up against the former Celtic player in the opposite dugout at the Banks's Stadium tonight, hoping to inflict a first league defeat on City since the last minute heartbreak at Leeds United on October 17. By contrast, Hutchings men have had just one game in almost six weeks.

Lambert had come under fire after Saddlers officials claimed he persuaded referee Mark Haywood to call off the original fixture over the Christmas break, when parts of the Bescot pitch were frozen.

But Hutchings is an admirer of City's current boss.

"I know him from the circuit, we get on well and have a good chat," said Hutchings. "I like him a lot. I like the way he plays and gets the best out of people. He's got vast experience from playing in Scotland and Germany and has been to cup finals in Europe.

"He's got a lot of experience and learnt a lot of cultures of coaching from going to Germany. They were a little ahead of us at the time in terms of different training methods so he's learnt along the way and it's coming to fruition.

"He's started his career well and had the opportunity to go to Norwich and you can't knock him from taking it. Going from Colchester to Norwich the expectations are slightly different so he knows he's got that on his head and he has to deliver."

That expectation is something Saddlers defender Emanuel Smith hopes the Midlands side will be able to counter if they play at the top of their game.

He said: "We're the only team to stop them scoring in the league and it will be on their minds.

"It's always good to take a team by surprise, especially Norwich. Against the better sides we're expected to lose so everyone gives 100 per cent and puts in big performances. There's no reason why we can't win if everyone is on their game. The performances are there, we just need the goals.

"You look for the attackers and if we shut them up and attack them, anything can happen if we block their main strikers. We need everyone on their game, we can't afford to carry anyone and if we work as a unit and keep training well when the game comes webe 100 per cent and do our best as a team.

"When we play against the bigger team if we're too worried to get on the ball it's impossible for people to play well. If we go out there with no fear we can come together as a unit."

Hutchings could be without captain Mark Hughes, who picked up an ankle injury in the Saddlers' last game - a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton 10 days ago.

If he fails to make it, Clayton McDonald will partner Manny Smith in the heart of the defence - the only central defensive partnership to prevent Norwich from scoring in League One this season.

The only other doubt is attacker Steve Jones, who is battling back from a niggling groin problem. Full-back Rhys Weston is back after a calf strain laid him low for the Brighton clash.

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