Lambert refuses to let relegation forecasts bother him
Paul Lambert intends to let the Canaries' football do the talking ahead of their Premier League bow.
Lambert is well aware City have been cast as certainties to make a swift return to the Championship along with fellow promoted sides QPR and Swansea, but the Scot believes Norwich are ready for the opening day trip to Wigan.
Lambert's squad wrapped up their pre-season with another competent 3-0 friendly win over Serie A visitors Parma at Carrow Road – after which Lambert confirmed his own personal Premier League prediction will remain in house.
'I think everyone has got us down as being relegated,' he said. 'I know in my head what I'd like to do, but I will keep that to myself. If I say anything else you will say, 'Lambert says we're going to win the league'.
'We've waited long enough to play our first game and I'm glad pre-season is out the way and now the competitive stuff starts. It will be tough at Wigan but we've earned the right to play.
'I'm sick of them (pre-season friendlies) if truth be known. I never liked it as a player and I've never liked it as a manager. The results are irrelevant – it's about how we played and hopefully we're ready. I don't read too much into it. It's nice to win but it's not the be all and end all.'
Russell Martin's calf injury proved an unwanted postscript to City's pre-season finale with the Scotland international originally named in the starting line up against the Italians.
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Both Martin and fellow absentee Andrew Crofts (ankle) will now work overtime this week alongside City's medical staff to prove their fitness for the trip to the DW Stadium. Lambert admitted the Welsh midfielder is likely to miss his country's friendly on Wednesday against Australia after failing to recover from the knock originally sustained at Coventry.
'More than likely (he won't play for Wales),' he said. 'He has still got a bit of puffiness with his ankle, which is why he was not involved at Coventry and was not ready for this game. We will monitor him over the next few days to see how he is.
'Hopefully Crofts will be okay for Wigan. Russell got a bang on his calf the other night. We tried it and he has felt it again a little bit so we will see how he is for the rest of the week.'
Lambert also revealed Elliott Ward and James Vaughan are progressing well from ankle injuries suffered on the club's German tour which have ruled them out of the first few weeks of Norwich's top flight return. Wide player Anthony Pilkington stepped up his rehab from long term injury with a second cameo of the week against continental opposition – but Lambert adopted a cautionary note with Wigan now less than a week away.
'It's still a big ask. I thought he looked lively and you can see that he has got quality,' he said. 'When he's fully fit he will be a huge asset to this football club. It's still a bit early for him to be part of that.
'The team played really well again with the different systems that we played and I think they can't wait to get going next weekend.'