Lambert not panicked by recent form

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert has been given licence to change his line-up tonight to nip any talk of a Norwich City blip firmly in the bud. Leeds and Charlton have each hit sticky patches in the promotion race, but Lambert insists that two defeats in the last three games doesn't mean City are entering one of their own.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert has been given licence to change his line-up tonight to nip any talk of a Norwich City blip firmly in the bud.

Leeds and Charlton have each hit sticky patches in the promotion race, but Lambert insists that two defeats in the last three games doesn't mean City are entering one of their own.

However, he could be about to tinker with his tried and trusted starting XI for the first time in months as City try to maintain a three-point gap at the top of League One.

'It gives me the license to - to do what I want with it,' he said. 'I might well do. If other lads come in they might have to step up to what the others have been doing. Saturday is the first time I can turn round and say we didn't deserve to win the game, but you go again.'

With lingering doubts about Darel Russell's participation as City await the result of an appeal against his red card at the weekend, Lambert could be forced into one change. But he may decide on more - and if he does, there may be a change of tactics to come as well.

'I have got the option to change what I want to do,' he said. 'Everybody is as important as each other and whatever team I pick will be hopefully good enough to go out and win.

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'I can do what I feel at ease with and if the lads adapt to it, which I'm sure they will do, they will be ready for it, that's for sure. We will come out fighting.'

Lambert insists City will go for Southend's throat from the kick-off, and just about managed to laugh off any suggestions that City might just have hit a wall.

Panic stations, it's not.

'No - for heaven's sake,' he said. 'I never panic, it's not in my nature, really. I have seen loads of things happen in football and I know what it's like, I know when you deserve to win and I know when you deserve to get beat. Saturday we deserved to get beat, and the best way forward is we bounce back as quickly as we can.

'The game is on you before you know it, you don't get time to dwell on it, and I never dwell on a win let alone anything else.

'It's different if we were on a losing streak of 19 games in a row - I wouldn't be sitting here anyway.

'The lads have done brilliant. If I really want to sit and analyse it and look back on what we have done it's been remarkable, it really has - has the table been turned somewhere here? Are we sitting at the bottom?

'I can't worry about what's happened in the past, I can worry about what's happening in the future but I can't worry about what's happened in the past.'

Lambert knows a reaction is needed to Saturday's performance - another full house will expect nothing less - especially with Leeds just three points behind and in-form Colchester a point further back.

'They don't need me to tell them what they have done, they know,' he said. 'They know exactly what is going on, they know when they don't perform, they know when they perform. What they need to be reminded if we haven't done anything yet. We have put ourselves in a position where we're in the mix and it's great being there.'

If Southend - 18th in the table and without a win this year - think they can catch City on the hop, then the man who started the season in charge at Colchester, their big derby rivals, has a warning.

'They need the points and it is up to us to keep them down there,' he said. 'We feel sorry for nobody in football. You have got to look after you own back yard and we will come out flying tomorrow.

'We have to win, we have to win - that is the nature if you play at this club.

'The crowd will come and it will be jam-packed again and they'll get right behind us. And sitting at the top of the league - from my experience in football it's a great place to be.'