Lambert’s past and present on collision course

Old-fashioned centre forwards are a dying breed, but two men who maintain the art are expected to be on show this afternoon – one from Paul Lambert's Christmas past and one from Christmas present.

City skipper Grant Holt will return after a one-game suspension, while Coventry are expected to pit 6ft 3in Clive Platt – a player who worked under Lambert at Colchester United – against City centre-backs Michael Nelson and Elliott Ward.

'An absolutely terrific lad he is, a really top man and he did great for me at Colchester,' said the City boss. 'A proper man.'

'He's a threat because of his height and his physical presence, but Michael (Nelson) played against him last time. I don't know if Wardy has played against him, but Michael has, so you know what you are going to get. I have a lot of time for him.'

Holt is back in the frame after his suspension for the home defeat by Portsmouth a week ago – and Lambert knows what to expect from his No 9.

'He has got a great rapport with the fans but his performances do that,' Lambert said.

'When we came in we made him captain and he took it on board. He is a big player for the club, there's no two ways about it, but he will be the first to admit he needs other people round and about him. You are only as good as the guy next to you, because they have got to go and get you the ball, they have got to try and create it for you and all those sort of things.

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'At the end of it you have got to have somebody to put the ball in the net, so it is a team. You need a team to achieve things.'

Holt has seven goals in 19 league starts this season, four of them in the last four games, as he proves that the centre-forward's art is not a lost one.

'He is a typical old-fashioned No 9,' said Lambert. 'They are very rare now, you don't really see much of them, but thankfully we have got him here and he has been great for me.'

Platt was in the Colchester side that Lambert brought to Carrow Road on the fateful opening day of last season, scoring twice in the 7-1 win, but felt the full force of the winds of change when City went to Colchester and won 5-0.

The men in charge that day – Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd – meet again this afternoon.

Boothroyd admitted this week he had a score to settle; for Lambert the head-to-head isn't an issue.

'That wasn't against Aidy Boothroyd,' he said. 'It was the Colchester situation against Norwich. It was a game that should never have been hostile the way it was.

'It was nigh on the point of absolutely ridiculous that, but Colchester made it that way, or their fans did.

'It was sweet enough for Norwich to get their own back for what happened on the first day, but it was against me, it was the fans' anger against me.'

City are coming off the back of a home defeat by Portsmouth but Lambert is confident they can maintain their away form, which has seen them beaten only twice in ten games away from Carrow Road.

'You go away knowing that you have got lads who can score,' he said. 'That is the big thing we have got, we always know we are going to create chances.

'Coventry are going really, really well themselves. Aidy has done great there. It is another hard game, but we know we can score.

'The away form has been great. The onus is always on the home team to make the running but I always think we can score, regardless of how we are playing. The added bonus is we are playing well enough to create things.'