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Lambert desperate for the real action to get under way

PUBLISHED: 11:42 08 August 2011

Paul Lambert gives Wes Hoolahan a pat on the back for his performance against Parma. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Paul Lambert gives Wes Hoolahan a pat on the back for his performance against Parma. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

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Norwich City boss Paul Lambert admitted he is “sick” of pre-season friendlies and can’t wait for the competitive action to start against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Lambert’s men completed their pre-season campaign with a convincing 3-0 win against Parma but the Scot knows the gentle tempo of the match against the Italians will be a lot different to the cut and thrust of top flight football starting at the DW Stadium on Saturday.

“I’m delighted with them, now it’s for real, we will see what happens,” said the City boss, who saw Russell Martin aggravate a calf injury in the warm-up at the weekend putting his involvement against Wigan in jeopardy. I’m sick of them (pre-season friendlies) if truth be known. I never liked it as a player and I’ve never liked it as a manager. We’ve waited long enough to play our first game and I’m glad pre-season is out the way and now the competitive stuff starts. It will be tough at Wigan but we’ve earned the right to play.”

Andrew Crofts’ ankle is still swollen from the knock he took against Coventry last weekend and Lambert said the midfielder is likely to pull out of the Wales squad for their friendly against Australia on Wednesday night. Lambert hasn’t however completely discounted the midfielder from being involved for the Canaries’ Premier League opener.

“More than likely (he won’t play for Wales),” Lambert said. “He has still got a bit of puffiness with his ankle, which is why he was not involved at Coventry and was not ready for this game.

“We will monitor him over the next few days to see how he is. Hopefully Crofts will be okay for Wigan.”

While Anthony Pilkington has told the manager he is ready if needed after two substitute appearances, Lambert hinted that the recent signing from Huddersfield is unlikely to be involved from the start.

“It’s still a big ask – I thought he looked lively and you can see that he has got quality,” added Lambert, who was pleased with the overall performance of his side against Parma. When he’s fully fit he will be a huge asset to this football club. It’s still a bit early for him to be part of that.”

Lambert admitted he has got a difficult job over the next week pinning down his starting XI with several players catching the eye over the summer. Elliott Bennett appears to have settled straight away down the right hand side while Ritchie De Laet looks like he has been part of the City back four for a lot longer than just the pre-season campaign.

Lambert acknowledged they were the kind of “problems” he doesn’t mind solving.

“I’ve got a rough idea what the team will be. It’s never easy picking a team but you’ve just got to try and pick the best team that you think can go and win the game.”


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