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Opportunity knocks as Lambert rings changes

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert is searching for a winning combinaton.

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert is searching for a winning combinaton.

Archant © 2010

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert will make at least two enforced changes for tonight's Championship game at Millwall.

Lambert confirmed at his pre-match Press conference left-back Steven Smith – substituted early in the second half of Saturday’s 2-2 league draw against Burnley – will miss the trip due to a hip problem.

Lambert is already without midfielder Andrew Crofts, who serves a one-game suspension after his dismissal for two bookable offences at the weekend – and still has four accumulated yellows hanging over his head. Simon Lappin is poised to deputise at left-back in the absence of Steven Smith and Adam Drury with David Fox in line to replace Crofts.

“It’s a chance for somebody else to come in and do alright,” said Lambert. “You can’t make excuses, that’s the game. “I think you can go through any league you want and that will always be the same. Good players, when you lose them it is a chance for somebody else to come in.

“Crofty’s been colossal for us, Fox was excellent when he came on. He’s a top, really talented footballer – and he has a bad habit of finding his own team-mate with a pass.”

Fox has been something of a victim of City’s success: bought in the summer, he was in centre midfield for the season opener, when City were beaten at home by Watford, but, then Lambert switched it around, moving Crofts to the holding role and reinstating Korey Smith on the right.

Fox was on the bench, and his only other league start came against Middlesbrough, when Korey Smith and Wes Hoolahan were rested.

“It’s tough, but that is the nature of the game,” said Lambert. “Whatever league you want to be in, whatever team you want to get in, if you’ve got a team that’s winning, trying to get in is hard.”

Fox isn’t the only the only one to have struggled for first team action of late – Chris Martin has been sidelined for seven games, but made a case for a recall by scoring on Saturday, and then going close to snatching a last-gasp winner.

“Chrissy came on on Saturday and his goal was brilliant,” said Lambert.

“He’s not one to let his head go down because he’s not played.”

Lambert’s selection cards were in their traditional place, close to his chest.

“Everybody gives me problems,” he said. “I just have to try and pick a team that I think will win the game.

“I never really pick anything through favouritism, just a team that I think will win games.”

One of the factors City face tonight is the atmosphere generated inside The Den by the Millwall crowd, as well as a half decent team – although meeting them twice in League One last season means City are prepared.

“They have had one or two changes,” Lambert said.

“It was a great achievement to come up.

“Everybody knows how hard a place it is to go to because of the atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, Lambert has sanctioned a loan extension for defender George Francomb who will now stay at League Two Barnet for a further month.

The 19-year-old has played in Barnet’s last six games but his initial deal ended at the weekend.

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