Martin has right sort of arrogance – Lambert

Chris Martin perhaps thought he wouldn't make it to a century of games for Norwich City.

The milestone is expected to be reached this afternoon, when the 22-year-old from Beccles runs out against Portsmouth.

One former manager's observation that he was one half of a Tweeedle Dee-Tweedle Dum partnership with Michael Spillane has never gone away, but sending Martin to Luton for a season did more than get him out of the way for a year.

Martin has had his scrapes and his critics, but for his part, City boss Paul Lambert is happy with what he does on the pitch.

'He has been excellent, he really has,' Lambert said.

'I can't speak in years gone by what's happened to him or what other people have thought about him, but in my time he has been really really fine. He has done a job for me I have asked him to do it and that's what you judge people on, if they can do it on the pitch.

'Yes, you have got to curtail your lifestyle on the outside if that gets out of hand you can come down on it, but I have never had one bit of bother from him other than this other thing (an on-going legal matter).'

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The accusation, perhaps from those who don't know him, is that Martin is arrogant or cocky.

'If you are arrogant and you think you are above everything then it will come back and bite you,' said Lambert. 'He's not that. But the arrogance to put the ball in the net –he's got it.'

Martin is expected to be partnered by Simeon Jackson today, with skipper Grant Holt suspended after picking up booking number five last week.

'He has been on top of his game for the last few weeks now, but I have no worries whoever comes in, that they will come in and do the job and hopefully they'll do well for us,' Lambert said.

The manager himself is returning from a two-game touchline ban for improper conduct and while he admits he will find it hard to bite his tongue, he won't tolerate bookings for dissent among his squad.

'You can't do it, not in the modern day game,' he said. 'You have got to curtail it – that's good coming from me! You have got to try and keep it in, I know it's difficult because I know what it's like.

'If I think it's silly and I think it's hurting the team then I will come down on it, but if it's something like Andrew Crofts for instance when he got sent off (against Burnley) in the last minute of the game, I thought that was poor, I wouldn't come down on it. The crowd play a big part in the game – when you're up against a big crowd like Derby for instance, they tend to try and get the referee onside.'

City defend a six-match unbeaten run today against a Portsmouth side which has managed to retain, and sign, Premier League players, despite their brush with financial disaster. While City prospered in November, Pompey struggled to turn form into points, let alone draws, although they did finish the month off with a 2-1 win at Swansea.

'You look at their squad for heaven's sake, it's incredible,' said Lambert. 'Sometimes you don't get your reward for playing well. If you are not going to win, make sure you don't get beaten. That's the thing that we have had, but you look at their squad and they are a good side.'

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