Lambert - Mental strength the key

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert believes the Premier League new boys must show mental toughness to compete at the highest level.

The Canaries head to Southend tonight (7.45pm) for their second friendly in three days following a gruelling week-long German fitness training camp designed to ensure City are ready in mind as well as body for the huge challenge ahead.

'You have to put us into a category where we are new to this,' said Lambert. 'If you quote teams like Manchester United, then that is a different environment. They are used to it but that doesn't mean when we go to those clubs we are thinking we're going to get turned over. We'll give it a go. We've earned the right to go and play in it. We won't go anywhere to think we'll get turned over.

'You have to use your brain, you have to be sensible about it. We know we're up against established teams and players. You're going to have to hang in unbelievably in certain games. We might not have possession of the ball in a lot of games but when we do have it, we must try and keep it. Hopefully we don't go and play with fear. They must go and express themselves. I want them to enjoy it and they certainly will do that more if they go and win. We know it's going to be tough but all we're trying to do is prepare in these pre-season games, mix and match, and give the lads game time.'

United loanee Ritchie De Laet impressed during a composed 63-minute outing against Crystal Palace on Tuesday alongside fit-again Leon Barnett in a pacy central defensive pairing.

'He is quick and he's only a young lad as well,' said Lambert. 'He can play anywhere along the back four. He played at right back for Portsmouth, he played for Manchester United left back and centre back, so I know he can fit in anywhere.

'I thought he (Leon) did really great. His long lay-off was a blow for us at the time last season but we battled on and the lads who came in for us like Zak (Whitbread) and Wardy did great for us as well.'

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Ward is again unlikely to feature at Southend after picking up an impact injury on the club's German pre-season tour. New striker James Vaughan (knee) also missed the midweek trip to Selhurst Park.

'James just has a slight problem with his knee that he did in Germany. I don't think he'll be ready before the weekend,' said Lambert. 'Elliott is another who picked up a knock in Germany. He had a clash in training which is giving him a little bit of a cause for concern at the minute. He won't be available for Southend.

'Bradley Johnson had a little bit of a problem which is why we took him off at half-time (against Palace) but hopefully all the other lads come through fine.'

Tottenham loan signing Kyle Naughton could be included in the travelling party for the latest Shrimpers' friendly after linking up with his new team-mates. Adam Drury is another Palace absentee that may feature after returning to training following a calf injury.