Norwich City outcasts told they can seek pastures new
There appears to be no way back into manager Paul Lambert's plans for the six senior players not involved in Norwich City's pre-season games.
Defender Steven Smith, midfielders Stephen Hughes and Owain Tudur Jones, winger Anthony McNamee, and strikers Cody McDonald and Oli Johnson did not travel to last week's training camp in Germany and have not featured in any of the Canaries' warm-up matches at home.
All six are under contract until June 2012, but it seems certain they will not feature in Lambert's squad of 25 for Premier League duty, and they are unlikely to feature in the reserve team either.
'The lads know. I told them towards the end of last season. They've been really fine, they haven't been obstructive or anything like that. They know the situation, it's up to them to make their agents work for them,' said Lambert. 'It's entirely up to the lads. Their agents are working for them to go and do something. I think a few of them have had chances to go but they've not taken it, so they're still here.'
As for his plans for the FA Premier Reserve League, in which City will play 22 games, Lambert said: 'It will be used for the younger ones.'
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Aberdeen were keen to sign Smith after his successful loan spell at Pittodrie last season but manager Craig Brown said they could not match his improved salary, triggered by the Canaries' promotion to the top flight.
McDonald, Gillingham's player of the year with 25 goals during his season-long loan, has had talks with League One club Oldham and has also been linked with Peterborough, but as for a possible deal, Lambert said: 'There is nothing at the minute.'
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Hughes, Tudur Jones and Johnson all went out on loan last season, while McNamee started only five Championship games.
Back from their German trip, City face five friendlies in the space of 12 days, starting against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park tonight (7.30pm).
Full-back Kyle Naughton, arriving on a season-long loan, has been on Tottenham's tour in South Africa but may team up with City today.
'They were flying back last night and I'll make contact with him and I hope he'll join us,' said Lambert yesterday.
Defender Adam Drury, heading into his testimonial season, has yet to feature in the pre-season programme.
'He's just got a slight knock on his calf at the minute, which kept him out, but it's not too bad,' said Lambert.
Defender Marc Tierney and striker James Vaughan also missed the second game in Germany because of knocks.
'They're only slight but I'm not taking any chances with them. They've done most of the running and their work, so a game here or there is no problem for them to miss,' said the City boss.
With further games at Southend on Thursday (7.30pm) and Coventry on Saturday (3pm), there will be plenty of opportunity to build up the squad's match fitness before the home friendlies against Real Zaragoza and Parma.
'It will be more or less the same squad that went to Germany with us. They won't be playing 90 minutes but they'll build up from what they've been doing so they might get an hour, but not the full 90 at the minute,' said Lambert.
'When next week comes they will get 90 minutes – the ones you think are going to be round about it.'
He added: 'The games in Germany weren't structured in a way that was going to be really hard for us at this stage. It was just to get used to each other and how the team play and get different formations and play different ways. It wasn't the score, the score was irrelevant.'