Just go out and play, Lambert tells Hoolahan

Paul Lambert will ask the 'free spirit' that is Wes Hoolahan to silence all but one section of Bramall Lane this afternoon.

Hoolahan grabbed a hat-trick against the Blades at Carrow Road a month ago after coming on as a half-time substitute – but there were no half measures in his performance against Cardiff last weekend, which left Lambert leading the plaudits.

The suggestion from Micky Adams in midweek was that Hoolahan's free role could lead to indiscipline: it's a view Lambert understands, although he isn't about to start regimenting his front-line troops.

'He is a free spirit the way he plays the game,' said Lambert. 'But when he is on his game, especially like last week, you have one hell of a player on your hands.

'We don't really keep the reins on him – it is always difficult to be creative rather than destructive, that is always the case. I think when you have those players in your side – like Henri (Lansbury) as well – once they are in the last third they have got to play with their own eyes, they have got to see the picture. You cannot tell them what to do in that last third of the pitch, which I don't because I think they are special talents, those type of players.

'I think people would rather have them in their side than against them and we are fortunate enough to have somebody like him here. Those type of players don't grow on trees. Him and Henri and people like that, they have that talent where they can thread things through or they can make something happen. If you give them space they will definitely hurt you.'

If Lambert, as he has admitted in recent weeks, has been surprised at the success this season, then it's matched by the away supporters, who have gone from the famine of previous regimes to the feast of the current era.

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Since 2000 City have been in double figures twice for away wins – as champions in 2003-04 and last season. They currently have five wins on the board and look set to beat the next best tally from the past 11 season of seven in 2001-02.

Only four teams have scored more away goals and only four have notched more at home – an attacking policy which won't change today.

'We never go to a place where we think we are going to have to bed ourselves in and try and take a draw or anything,' said Lambert. 'I don't think we have got lads who can do it anyway.

'I think we have got lads who go and play with a freedom and a great desire to win a game. I don't keep the reins on them.'