Norwich City boss Paul Lambert had no fears playing Jed Steer
PUBLISHED: 13:03 30 January 2012
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City boss Paul Lambert said he never had any fear about giving 19-year-old goalkeeper Jed Steer his senior debut in an FA Cup tie away to Premier League opposition.
Steer’s outstanding saves from Jerome Thomas, Shane Long and Joe Mattock, allied to his immaculate handling, helped book the Canaries a place in the last 16 with a 2-1 fourth round win over West Bromwich Albion.
“I thought his saves were world-class. He was terrific,” said Lambert. “It’s only one game but he has the potential to be a really top goalkeeper.
“He has a great temperament and a great enthusiasm for the game as well, which is important.
“He is a really level-headed lad, which is probably more important than anything – but his handling was absolutely brilliant.”
Lambert played Declan Rudd in goal against Burnley in round three, but with Rudd out injured, decided to give Steer, who was on loan at League One club Yeovil earlier in the season, a similar chance.
“I’ve never had any fear about playing any of the younger lads. I did it with Korey Smith and Dec as well. You won’t know until you give somebody an opportunity and, if you don’t give them an opportunity, how do you know?” said Lambert.
“I knew Jed could handle the crowd and handle playing behind our defence. He trains with us every day, which is great, and I think he’s got the makings of a really top ’keeper. I think the football club is really fortunate to have three really top goalkeepers.
“I’m pretty sure Yeovil was great for him but playing an FA Cup tie against a Premier League team is a bit different.
“I just told him this morning exactly what I was doing. I never put any pressure on him, just told him to go and enjoy it. He has nothing to prove to me. I didn’t want him to do something that was alien to him – just play his way.
“I’ve had loads of people trying to get goalkeepers into the football club but I didn’t have to respond to it. I had great faith he wouldn’t let us down.”
Lambert said he wanted the tie settled on the day and substitute Simeon Jackson granted his wish with the winner five minutes from time.
“I’m delighted to go through and I’m glad it never went to a replay. This is a really hard place to come, really tough, and again we came up trumps,” he said.
“I always think we can score. The way it’s been for the last 2½ years it’s well documented the number of late goals we’ve scored and that comes from a great desire within the team.
“I always think Simeon has got a goal in him – he could have had another one towards the end of the game as well – but he’s a brilliant pro.”
But the City boss insists the FA Cup is not top priority this season.
“It would be great if we could stay in the Premier League. It’s the greatest league going and that’s not to undermine the FA Cup. But if you’re asking me what I prefer, I think Premier League status is vital for the football club,” he said.
Because of that, Lambert made five changes after the 0-0 draw against Chelsea, with Wednesday’s Premier League game at Sunderland in his thinking.
“We never played Morison, Surman, Johnson or Ruddy, and Naughton couldn’t play. We’ve got another game on Wednesday, another huge, huge game and we changed a few of them,” he said.