Lambert - You are only as strong as your bench

Canaries boss Paul Lambert has used his substitutes to good effect since he arrived at Carrow Road – but admits he has cast an envious eye over his rivals' benches this season.

The light at the end of the injury tunnel should brighten further this week when the City boss expects another couple of senior players to leave the treatment room and head for the training pitches.

Michael Nelson – who travelled with the squad to Reading on Saturday – is already there, having been absent since picking up an ankle injury in the home game against Swansea in August.

Left-back Adam Drury, who has missed the last six games with a calf injury sustained at QPR, is expected to return along with summer signing Andrew Surman, who hasn't kicked a ball for City since the end of August because of a knee injury.

On top of that, Lambert has also lost Stephen Hughes, Zak Whitbread and Steven Smith to injury, leaving him short on resources – but looking forward to some timely returns.

'When you look at the ones out, Adam was a regular for me, so was Andrew, and Michael was until he got injured,' he said. 'Then I had to go and get Leon (Barnett).

'So you are talking at least another two lads to come back into it.

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'But it is the bench. You are only as strong as your bench. That's the thing I have noticed when we have played the bigger clubs – their benches are powerful, and we have had some young ones on the bench.

'That's what we go with – but you are only as strong as your bench.'

Academy skipper Matthew Ball was an unused sub for the home game against Crystal Palace last month, while Luke Daley made his first appearance of the year at Reading on Saturday and Academy winger Josh Dawkin was in the travelling party.

'Luke hasn't played in earnest for six, seven months,' said Lambert. 'Josh shouldn't be anywhere near it because he's young.'

Lambert admits some are still learning the game and that Dawkin could do with a loan spell, like George Francomb, Cody McDonald and Tom Adeyemi – who are at Barnet, Gillingham and Bradford respectively.

'I would have sent Josh out if I could, if I thought it was feasible to do, and get them games because it is only going to benefit the club after I'm away, that's for sure,' said Lambert.

'The younger ones need to learn the game. There is no point if I don't think they are ready. Korey (Smith) is an exception because his body has matured to go and do it and he knows the game a little bit more, but they are only young lads.'