Lambert so impressed by Martin’s versatility
Paul Lambert has hailed Russell Martin as a man for all seasons. The 25-year-old excelled again at the weekend in a defiant defensive display from the Canaries to earn a hard-earned point at Everton.
Martin's form at the heart of Norwich's backline also earned him a recall recently to the Scotland international set-up before an ankle injury suffered at Aston Villa forced him to withdraw from Craig Levein's squad.
The former Brighton and Peterborough defender has been a revelation at centre-half this season since switching from right-back to help solve a growing injury crisis, but Lambert is not prepared to permanently alter his job description just yet.
'That is the beauty about Russell. You can put him in most places in that backline and he'll do a job for you and give you an honest day's work,' said Lambert. 'I thought on Saturday again that he and Zak (Whitbread), Kyle (Naughton) and Marc (Tierney), along with John (Ruddy), were excellent.
'As for the national team, it is up to Craig Levein what he wants to do. I can't influence that. All Russell can do is play as well as he can here and if the national team want to pick him then great.
'Craig knows the national players better than I do so it's up to him whoever he thinks can do a job. He has done fantastically well for us. His form over the last year and a half has been of a really high standard. He has never let us down at right-back or centre-back.'
Lambert confirmed Whitbread emerged unscathed from his second outing since a recent injury return. Lambert will be guided by the Liverpudlian when it comes to deciding on his defensive mix to face Wanderers. The same applies to the rest of his squad, with tonight's trip to Wolves the first of five games in 16 days.
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'Everybody seems to be okay. Zak came through it really fine, so he did, so hopefully he is ready to go again,' said Lambert. 'I need to see how he is feeling, but he feels really good at the minute. I'm happy with the way he has played in the last two games.
'It's really hard at this time of year with the number of games but it is more or less the same for everybody. It's a big ask for everybody to play every game over this period. I have to judge how they are and how they are feeling in themselves.'
City's festive fixture list has started with two lengthy trips with Everton followed by tonight's West Midlands excurison. But Lambert has no qualms with the demands on his men.
'Not really, because we've got it with Fulham and Spurs. I think it works the same for us over the Christmas time,' he said. 'That is just the way the fixtures have come out with two away games. I think it evens itself out.
'The Premier League is virtually Saturday to Saturday whereas the Championship is Tuesday to Saturday for a number of weeks. It is a quick turnaround to go again.
'I don't know if that helps us from last season, but the Premier League is totally different from the Championship. All the teams are used to playing at a high intensity. Players in the modern day game are really fit so I don't think that will be a major concern.'
Norwich's battling qualities were evident again to survive a late onslaught at Everton. City returned south with another point to follow up the previous week's home win over Newcastle, but Lambert is quick to place the Canaries' upturn in its proper context.
'I don't think two games are enough to say we have some momentum. We've done really fine to get ourselves in a position that is not too bad, but to look at the points difference there is not much in it from the bottom to us,' he said.
'It has given us confidence that we can go and compete with other teams. After 20 minutes at Everton it wasn't looking great because they were coming at us all over the place.
'When the crowd get a head of steam there, it drives them on.
'I said they were a really good side beforehand and nothing I saw changed my mind. They are one hell of a hard side to beat at their own place, but all credit to the lads for coming away with what could be a vital point.'