Lambert won't curb Holt's enthusiasm

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert says he won't be issuing leading scorer Grant Holt with a restraining order in an effort to ensure he doesn't serve another suspension.Holt is one yellow card short of an automatic ban, having picked up a booking against Leeds last weekend.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert says he won't be issuing leading scorer Grant Holt with a restraining order in an effort to ensure he doesn't serve another suspension.

Holt is one yellow card short of an automatic ban, having picked up a booking against Leeds last weekend.

If he takes that into double figures over Easter, he serves an automatic two-game ban - but if he manages to keep his nose clean at Tranmere tonight, against Stockport on Monday and MK Dons the following weekend, then he will escape with just a warning.

Holt had gone seven games without a booking after being sent off against Brentford on January 23, his longest run of the season.


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But while his absence would rob City of their talismanic skipper, Lambert says he won't be applying the shackles.

'I just have to let him play his own game,' he said. 'If you take a lot of that out of Grant's game you might lose it, but hopefully he does get through the next few games without getting one. We have to try and get him through it, but at the same time I can't curtail his enthusiasm for the game.'

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Referee Lee Probert took Holt's name last week after he scythed down Robert Snodgrass - and Lambert admitted he feared the worst.

'You are never quite sure,' he said. 'The referee is a Premiership referee so he is probably more experienced than a lot of the ones we do get and I thought he was very good.'

Holt is likely to lead out the same team tonight that finished the game against Leeds, with midfielder Korey Smith a doubt after picking up a dead leg last weekend. Stephen Hughes replaced him with just five minutes to go and provided the cross from which fellow-sub Chris Martin scored the 89th-minute winner.

Hughes has had to be patient, with Smith, Darel Russell and Simon Lappin regularly occupying the three midfield places.

And while his contribution to the winner was top drawer, Lambert insists he expected nothing less.

'I don't look at it as just 11 lads or the subs,' he said. 'It's everybody at the football club I need to perform and the team, the lads that have played every single week, have been brilliant.

'Stephen came on and made a terrific run into the box and Chrissy's is an absolutely brilliant finish. I expect them to go and do it, it's their job to go and perform, and they have been absolutely brilliant for me, every one of them.

'It's their job, and if they can do it, brilliant. But the job is to win as many games as we can.'

City have a home game against Stockport on Monday afternoon, but it's unlikely Lambert - who's policy is generally to stick with a winning team - will consider any squad rotation.

'I won't really look at the Stockport game,' he said. 'The most important game is this one coming up. I'll see how everyone feels and see how we do. I know it's a short turnaround, but I'll see how they feel.

'It's the same for everybody. You have to get on with it. That's the rules - the Easter period dictates, the same as the Christmas period, that you play games pretty quickly and we have to turn them around as good as we can.'

The players' fitness levels clearly play a major part, but the buzz of winning one game gives them a head start in the next.

'I think it's a combination of a few things,' said Lambert. 'Yes, they're fitter, but their adrenalin is carrying them through and to go and win games is more important. It's a combination of a few things to keep driving them on.

'You know you are in a decent position to try and do something and that definitely helps drive you on, and the crowd play a major part of that because of the amount of people that come and watch, and they certainly help.'

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