Lambert’s only worry is injury to Barnett
AUDIO: Paul Lambert will be anxiously awaiting news of a scan on centre-half Leon Barnett today before he decides whether or not he has to take his first steps into the emergency loan market.
Barnett pulled up with a hamstring problem with around 11 minutes of normal time remaining of Saturday's 2-1 home win over Reading.
If Barnett is sidelined, it leaves Lambert with just two specialist centre-halves in Elliott Ward and Zak Whitbread – both of whom usually occupy the left-sided role.
Lambert does have Jens Berthel Askou on loan at Championship rivals Millwall, but seems unlikely to recall the Dane, who has just one more game remaining with the Lions before that deal ends.
'He has got another game and it is not going to make any difference,' said the City boss. 'If needs be and I have to go out and get somebody we will get them.
'I might look at it, but even though the money is there, teams are not going to let their better ones. I could go and get anybody I want, but you are clutching at straws.'
Barnett has made 26 appearances for City since his loan arrival – later turned into a permanent deal – from West Brom last August, missing just three through suspension.
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'He will go for a scan, but it will be a blow if he is missing,' admitted Lambert.
The loss of Barnett was the only sour note for Lambert after another exhilarating finale from City, who clinched the points thanks to Grant Holt's winner just seconds before the end of four minutes' time added on.
Holt had already been up close and personal with keeper Adam Federici on at least three occasions when a goal seemed inevitable, but there was nothing the Aussie could do when the City skipper knocked Andrew Crofts' low cross home at the back post.
'He deserved a goal the amount of chances he had,' said Lambert. 'Sometimes when you see the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes it is not as easy as what a lot of people think, but his goal was excellent.
'It's easy to shy away from it if you have missed a few. It was a terrific ball from Crofty, I thought, across the face of goal, but Grant is great at getting in front of people and it is a vital goal.
'You need a strong captain, there's no two ways about it, but you also need other people to give him a hand. I think that is one of the strengths we have got – there are lads who keep on going and going. If you have a nucleus of lads who keep on going and if Grant maybe has an off day or whatever, you are hoping somebody else will step up.'
Federici was perhaps the outstanding performer on the day, but Lambert has seen enough of City's fighting spirit to know his heroics couldn't last.
'He was excellent,' said Lambert. 'You've got to hand it to the lad, he was very, very good. Without him I think we would have won convincingly.
'It's easy to sit here and tell you lies, which I'm not going to do – I have just got a great belief that the lads have got a great desire and spirit to go to the last kick of the ball and that again proves how close a knit group they are.
'The desire they have for the club and for themselves is huge.
'I don't think it's luck, I think it comes from the individual themselves and it comes collectively, how well they are playing to win games. I think that is the big, big thing I can compliment them on that they have got a terrific never-say-die attitude. That can take you a long, long way, it really can.'
Henri Lansbury scored City's opener, but owes a debt to the excellent Wes Hoolahan, whose nutmeg left Jay Tabb looking like a statue before finding the Arsenal youngster.
'I thought he was excellent, in the hole, and his bit of skill for the first goal – the guy had to buy a ticket to get back in,' said Lambert.
Good as Hoolahan was, it was perhaps the sight of substitute Andrew Surman that provided as much satisfaction, his classy cameo appearance after three months out, topped by a lovely little flick into Crofts' path on the way to the winner.
'I think Surman for the time has on was excellent,' said Lambert. 'He has a great awareness for the game. He is an elegant footballer and he will give you balance on that side. I think some of his passing, he doesn't have to look to where he is going to pass it, which is great. Hopefully Andrew can stay fit for the remainder of the season.'
City's early advances were pegged back by Shane Long's equaliser, before Reading were reduced to 10 men when Jem Karacan was shown a straight red for a crude, over-the-top tackle on David Fox 25 minutes from time.
'Listen, it was red rag to a bull,' said Lambert. 'It was a stone-waller. You can't go in with your foot as high as that, and the lad did it to Korey (Smith) the last game (at Reading) as well.
'We had a little lapse when we lost the goal, but I think even 11 v 11 we were the better side and their goalkeeper I think has produced four or five incredible saves which kept them in the game. I thought we were good value for the win.
'I think we were relentless. I thought we were relentless in the second half at Burnley to be honest.
'I thought we were excellent there, against Millwall it's a really hard team to play against, it was tough, but we ended up winning. It doesn't matter which way you want to dress it up, the game's about winning. If you can play great and win then great.'