Lambert hails Liverpool boss Dalglish
Paul Lambert admits Norwich city must overcome the best of British on and off the pitch today against Premier League heavyweights Liverpool.
European Cup-winning captain Steven Gerrard is fit and firing after a seven-month injury lay-off following his goalscoring display at Anfield last weekend against champions Manchester United.
And facing Lambert across the technical area is a man he rates as Scotland's finest footballing export – Kenny Dalglish.
'He is certainly the best player that I have seen come out of Scotland and probably one of the best that Britain has produced,' said Lambert. 'Probably the one world class player to come out of our country. You are talking about a club with the same history and tradition as Man United. The time I was growing up they were the team of the 1980s with Kenny and people like Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen playing.
'They were the best team going at that time. They are not the Liverpool of old but it is still the same crowd and I'm pretty sure the ambition is to try and get back into that top four – but there is a host of other teams up there who will want to do the same. They have come a long way since he went back. You can see with the reaction of the fans what they think of him both as a player and a manager. If Kenny fell in the sea he would probably come up with a salmon – he is the top man.'
Gerrard is the modern-day darling of the Kop, but Lambert is also wary of the threat posed by Uruguayan hitman Luis Suarez.
'Just his enthusiasm looking at him is great for the game,' said Lambert. 'He is always on the move that lad. He is a handful but they have some top players up there. Obviously Steven Gerrard coming back into the fray has given them a major lift.
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'The way the lad plays and what he has done, he is definitely one of the best in the last ten years. He has just had a little bit of a barren spell with his injury. It's unfortunate for us that he is back, but the lads will go and relish playing against him. They won't worry about who they play.'
Lambert knows Dalglish from close quarters after a spell under the Bhoys' legend at Celtic – which is why Norwich can forget any hint of complacency in the home ranks against his newly-promoted side.
'It was great because I could talk my own language. I could be as Glaswegian as I wanted to be,' he said. 'He was a director of football at the beginning at Celtic and then he took over for a spell when John (Barnes) left and what you see of him on the camera is a bit different from when he is away from that.
'I don't think any manager in football takes a team lightly or is disrespectful. I think on the outside looking in people might think it's only Norwich going to Anfield.
'I'm pretty sure professional people don't view it that way. It's like me saying if somebody came to Norwich and they were, no disrespect, non league or League Two or League One and you think you will just go out there and turn them over and you get done. I think your Liverpool's and Man United's wouldn't do that.'
City's recent form demands respect with a new look formation spearheaded by Steve Morison earning three wins in their last four league games. Lambert confirmed the Welsh international is fit after being withdrawn against Swansea with a bout of cramp. Grant Holt, pictured, played 90 minutes in a midweek reserve outing, but the club captain may have to bide his time again for that 100th appearance in Norwich colours.
'He is a huge part of this club, he has been for the last two years and he will be again,' said Lambert. 'It's just the way things are going at the minute and the system we are playing. You just try to be honest with them and not tell them any lies why I am doing what I am doing. The lads who don't play or who haven't been playing are every bit as important because you have to keep them on your side. Collectively, I have never had one problem since I have been here.
'To be fair to them they have been brilliant and their attitude the other night was terrific. There was always a bit of a fear when you put a strong reserve side out with lads who are used to playing first team football that it might just go below the standard you would expect, but you have to give them a lot of credit. They played as if it was the right thing to do. Grant is no different.'
Zak Whitbread (hamstring) misses out on a potential reunion with his first club as Lambert retains a longer term view over the fitness of the American and fellow defensive absentees Elliott Ward and Dani Ayala.
'Zak won't be available,' he said. 'It's taking a little bit longer than we thought but I don't want to rush him. If you do that, you might get problems later on so let him be fine in himself and hopefully he'll not be too far. Dani is doing really well. His rehab has gone well. Wardy has taken a bit slower than what we thought, but he is doing fine.'
Lambert admitted Leon Barnett's assured displays alongside Russell Martin have more than compensated for the triple injury blow to the heart of his defence.
'I think he has been excellent. Defensive-wise, he has been huge for us,' he said. 'I think we missed him when he got injured at Reading last year although Zak came in and did fantastically well. He is different to the likes of Wardy, Zak and Russell. He is an out-and-out defender.
'The time he has been at this football club he has been colossal and he is playing really, really well at the minute. What you see with him is what you get. He is the same in training. He doesn't change – not just as a footballer, but he is a really nice lad as well.'