Lambert eager for Russell to stay

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert insists he hasn't opened the exit door for Darel Russell and says he wants the out-of-contract midfielder to stay at Carrow Road. Russell was linked with Burnley and Preston last season and has reportedly been offered a deal by Leeds.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert insists he hasn't opened the exit door for Darel Russell and says he wants the out-of-contract midfielder to stay at Carrow Road.

Russell was linked with Burnley and Preston last season and has reportedly been offered a deal by Leeds.

Lambert added Brighton midfielder Andrew Crofts to his squad last week, but insists he is not a replacement for Russell and that talks over a new deal for the 29-year-old are on-going.

'Andrew is not a replacement, not at all,' said Lambert.


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'Rusty was brilliant for me last season and we are still trying to do everything we can to keep him.

'I hear the reports that other people are looking at him, but that's fine, he is a really top player, but we are in the running for him to stay.

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'But that is the furthest from the truth, it is not a replacement at all. I want to keep Rusty, that's for sure.

'I spoke to him just before he went away and had a chat and the club are in dialogue with his agent.

'We just have to hope that he wants to stay. I am sure if the club can do it and it can be agreed with everything, he will stay.'

Crofts' move to Carrow Road takes the number of midfielders in Lambert's current squad almost into double figures.

Russell, Wes Hoolahan, Korey Smith and Simon Lappin were regulars in his preferred starting line-up during the successful League One campaign, with Stephen Hughes, Anthony McNamee and Matt Gill on the bench. Teenager Tom Adeyemi was on the fringes of the first team squad, while Owain Tudur Jones never played a league game under Lambert and spent part of the season on loan at Yeovil.

However, Lambert says all will be given a fighting chance.

'They are here to fight to get in the side,' he said. 'They are going up another level.

'The lads know. I had a chat with them, I spoke to them and I am not pushing anybody out of the door, but I am sure a lot of them want to play the game of football and as I said, 'it's up to you to get in the side'.'

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