Lambert out to show what he’s learned
Paul Lambert aims to prove he is a fast learner in today's latest Premier League test at Bolton.
The Scot is relishing a reunion with the man he sounded out in the close season for the inside track on what it takes to flourish in the top-flight.
Trotters' compatriot Owen Coyle pulled off a similar mission impossible act when he guided Burnley into the Premier League via the Championship play-offs in 2009.
The Celtic-supporting Wanderers chief may have failed to keep the Clarets up, but Coyle did guide Bolton to a comfortable mid-table finish and FA Cup semi-final in his first full season at the Reebok.
'I think Oweny has done brilliant up there,' said Lambert, who revealed their long standing friendship goes back to playing days on opposite sides in the SPL.
'I think he did terrific at St Johnstone first and then at Burnley. Really top guy. I am looking forward to seeing him. He has done great since coming down to England and kept that feeling he had going at Burnley now at Bolton.
'There are a lot of Scottish lads in the Premier League but if I could have a bit of the success that Oweny has had I'll be doing okay. I've spoken to him and he has been great with me.
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'I played against him a few times as a footballer, but never as managers. I know him just from playing against each other. He would have been at Motherwell the time I was at Celtic, so I've known him from that.
'I'm pretty sure he is a big Celtic man – so we know each other from that side of it. You tend to find when you play for Celtic there is a lot of people who you do come to know.'
Lambert is well aware Coyle will demand a positive reaction from a Bolton side that suffered its heaviest home league defeat in 15 years when Man United breezed into town and out again last weekend with a 5-0 win.
'If you look at the teams they have played at the minute – the two Manchester clubs are vying for the league and European competition,' he said.
'Liverpool are going really well under Kenny (Dalglish) as well. It's not a disgrace to get turned over by that calibre of team. Not many teams will take them on, but in general I think he has done great.
'You'd think there is going to be some sort of reaction. I'm not going up thinking Bolton is going to lie down. They'll try and come out of the traps and retrieve what happened last week.
'The crowd will expect it, Oweny will expect a reaction. I know that is something we'll have to withstand. Maybe he wouldn't have liked the amount of goals he lost against Man United, but at the minute they are arguably the best team in the league.'
Coyle has already pledged to shake up his personnel for the Canaries' visit. Lambert also has some potential selection dilemmas with Anthony Pilkington and James Vaughan passed fit – but one man who looks to have forced his way to the top of the City manager's team sheet is Bradley Johnson.
'I think in the last few games, Jonno has been excellent with the way he has performed,' said the Lambert.
'He has been excellent and he is getting better. Against West Brom he was very, very good. You get an awful lot of knocks in football and it's how you come back from them.
'Some of the lads here have had those in their career and come back which probably indicates what type of lads they are – they want to win. Hopefully he keeps going the way he has been and he has a great career for himself. He has got years and years to go, but I think his performances this minute have been top class.'
Lambert revealed he had also taken time out from this week's planning to offer words of encouragement to young defensive duo Declan Rudd and Ritchie De Laet after the pair suffered contrasting fortunes against West Brom.
Senior keeper John Ruddy is available again following his one match ban – but Lambert admitted understudy Rudd has done his cause no harm at all following an eye-catching full Premier League debut against Albion.
The Scot is equally convinced De Laet will emerge stronger from some recent individual costly errors.
'People forget Ritchie is only young himself,' said Lambert. 'His general game has been really, really good. People can highlight him for a lot of the goals and it seems every mistake he makes at the minute is punished, but his general game has been very good. Yeah, I've spoken to him and he is fine.
'Declan did well. I spoke to him on Thursday. I thought he was excellent the way he played for someone so young. Hopefully he has got a big career in front of him.'
Vaughan's recovery from the gashed lip injury suffered against West Brom means Lambert again has five frontline striking options at his disposal.
'Your job becomes a lot easier when players are scoring goals,' he said. 'If they are scoring, then the confidence is up and you just keep throwing them in.
'Everybody is in it together and whenever I pick a team I pick one I feel is good enough to win. I never sit back and think to myself I'll go with a team that will consolidate or bed ourselves in. I'll try and go and win it.
'The players pick the team. The better you do the more chance you stay in there – unless I make a change for a specific reason but more times than not it is the same side. 'I really have no fear about putting any of them in. Whether it's home or away, it's about winning a game. I don't have any favourites. I pick a team for the benefit of this football club, that is my job – to get a winning a team.'