Lambert expecting hectic close season

Michael BaileyPaul Lambert is not expecting to get much of a break over the summer as he plots to make a success of Norwich City's Championship return. The Canaries boss has a big close season ahead of him, with out-of- contract midfielder Darel Russell's future still up in the air, new players to be brought in and inquiries likely to be made for City's crown jewels.Michael Bailey

Paul Lambert is not expecting to get much of a break over the summer as he plots to make a success of Norwich City's Championship return.

The Canaries boss has a big close season ahead of him, with out-of- contract midfielder Darel Russell's future still up in the air, new players to be brought in and inquiries likely to be made for City's crown jewels.

"I don't think you ever have a rest to be honest," said the LMA League One manager of the year. "Even though you might go away yourself, the mobile phone is not a great thing at times and that will certainly be the case.

"Next season is going to be a sizeable step up, everybody knows that, and we have to step up to the plate as well.


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"You look at the clubs that have come down and the clubs that are still in it, with Leicester and Nottingham Forest not going up. There are huge football clubs in there: Middlesbrough, QPR. So we are one of many in there and we will try and do everything we can to compete.

"I think the challenge is huge and it is something we will relish to go and do, and we will give it a go."

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Both City and League One runners-up Leeds United will look to the Foxes' performance this season as an indication of what they could achieve on their respective Championship returns.

Nigel Pearson's side, third tier champions in 2008-09, made the top six in their first season back, ultimately losing out to Cardiff in the play-off semi-finals.

And Lambert, asked whether City could repeat Thursday's open top bus parade in 12 month's time, said: "You can never predict the future. We know it's going to be really difficult because you are stepping up another league, but I would rather be there than not, that's for sure.

"We've earned the right to be there and we'll do everything we can to try and do something."

The City boss has been pragmatism personified since stepping into the Carrow Road hot-seat in August - and maintained he never saw Norwich being promoted until it was official.

"I never thought we had done it until it was mathematically impossible that they could catch us," said Lambert. "Gillingham was that game - even though the Charlton game said we were up, I just didn't want to be second or anything because Leeds could still have caught us.

And did Leeds' early advantage at the top ever seem insurmountable?

"I never thought about it - I just thought we could try and do as well as we possibly could and try to hang in there for the turnaround; we got to top in January time and we never let go of it," he added.

One thing Lambert did acknowledge was his relief Norwich were well clear of the final day promotion shake-up, already confirmed as champions with two games to spare.

The thought of a play-off campaign was not palatable and Lambert will have a degree of sympathy for whoever loses out from the quartet of Millwall, Swindon, Huddersfield and Charlton.

"I got beat in the play-offs with Wycombe and it's a horrible situation when you are in it and you don't do it," he said.

"So I'd rather do what we have done than be involved in that."

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