Big challenges ahead as Lambert prepares to strengthen

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert will attempt to strengthen every part of his title-winning Norwich City team this summer - but could discover today just how harsh life in the Championship can be.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert will attempt to strengthen every part of his title-winning Norwich City team this summer - but could discover today just how harsh life in the Championship can be.

All 72 Football League clubs are due to meet to discuss concerns over the way the Premier League wants to hand out money to the lower divisions - and that will affect how much money the City boss has available, and how much some of his illustrious rivals can spend.

The fear among some clubs is that if the big boys have their way, it could create a major split between the haves and the have-nots of the Championship.

The haves are those who slip out of the top flight and could benefit from bigger parachute payments stretching over four years - while the have-nots will continue to fight for relative scraps. Under the Premier League proposal, a relegated club would receive a parachute payment of �48m-�16m in each of the first two years and �8m in the next two.

In return, 'solidarity' payments for a club like City would be increased from around �800,000 to �2.2m - added to the �3.7m from extra revenue through broadcasting and a share of parachute payments. That would take their income as a Championship club to �5.9m. The difference between that and the proposed new parachute payment is enormous - and it's against this background that boss Lambert has to plan for the future.

Lambert has already made it clear the current squad 'needs help' in every department.

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He will speak to Newcastle about bringing back goalkeeper Fraser Forster - voted the club's players' player of the year - on loan, but knows there will be plenty of competition.

There is a lack of numbers in defence, and while the midfield ranks have often been over-manned, it's likely there will be changes, with some of the fringe players expected to move on.

Up front, Lambert has two major players in Grant Holt and Chris Martin - but in Oli Johnson and Cody McDonald, he has inexperienced back-up.

His belief is clearly that Holt and Martin - who have scored more than 50 goals between them this season - are up to the job.

'I have no doubt,' he said. 'They know where the goal is. The goal will never change, it's the same size in the Championship, so I am pretty sure they know where it is.

They will have to step up as well - everybody the football club will have to step up.'

Talks over contract renewals were put on hold until promotion - and then the title - was secured, but Lambert has four players whose deals are up this summer.

Darel Russell and Gary Doherty are among those he will need to talk to, but the futures of Jamie Cureton and Paul McVeigh are unlikely to be in the Championship.

It's a division in which City will be hoping to emulate Leicester, whose League One trophy City have now inherited and who have guaranteed them a play-off spot this season.

However, Lambert is refusing to reveal his ambitions for next season.

'I have my own thoughts,' he said. 'Wait and see.'

It's a summer with so many variables, not least the continuing theme that Lambert may depart for a bigger club - something he has vehemently denied.

Bookmakers have added the names of Neil Lennon, Craig Levein, Mark Hughes and Billy Davies to a list of potential new permanent managers at Celtic, a job which they had Lambert odds on to take just a few weeks ago.

However, the prevailing mood suggests the Celtic conjecture is just that - and Lambert .

'I never once worried about it, never lost sleep over it,' he said. 'I had a terrific time as a footballer up at Celtic, it is a marvellous football club with a terrific fan base. It has got everything there, but this has been a brilliant club and it always will be because of the amount of people that come and watch it and I have never once thought about it.

'There were other people saying it, not myself.

'That's for other people. I love it here and unless Delia sacks me or something like that then I'll still be here.'