No hint of any nerves as Norwich City run into form

Norwich City are back in the driving seat – and could be further along the road to the Premier League come 5pm this afternoon.

Cardiff's home draw with leaders QPR on Saturday means City are a point ahead of their nearest rivals with three games remaining.

For City, it's Derby at home today, for Cardiff it's a trip to struggling Preston, who could be relegated if they lose.

City appear to have no new injury concerns – Grant Holt didn't finish the derby, although Paul Lambert said his 83rd-minute departure was nothing to do with the hamstring problem that has troubled him since Watford almost a fortnight ago.

That good news was slightly tempered by the departure of Sam Vokes, recalled from his emergency loan deal by parent club Wolves as soon as Thursday's hostilities were sorted.

Fortunately for Lambert, Vokes' return doesn't leave him in the lurch; Chris Martin must be champing at the bit after more than two months out with injury, while Oli Johnson has returned from his loan at Yeovil.

As well as the options, at just the right time, a team that has been in-form for pretty much the whole of the campaign, has somehow managed to step up another gear.

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Simeon Jackson is perhaps the best example: blessed with a terrific burst of pace, but unable to completely crack the Grant Holt-Chris Martin partnership until the latter's injury, the Canadian international is now proving that a run of starts and a bit of confidence can transform a player.

Instead of questioning his ability to perform at this level, supporters now regard him as the best partner for the talismanic Holt

Jackson's goal at Portman Road - the third in the 5-1 rout that is still leaving a few shaking their heads in disbelief – was richly deserved, borne of pace and Holt's brilliance.

It was his fifth in his last five games, his ninth of the season. And it hardly reflected how well he played, frightening the life out of the Town back four not just with his pace, but the intelligent use of it.

'I think the last four or five games Simeon Jackson has played as well as he has done,' said Lambert. 'That's why I bought him – I thought he was a handful for Forest (last Friday) and I thought tonight that's as good as he has been. He was excellent and deserved his goal. I thought him and Grant did great up top.'

They were complemented everywhere around the park.

'I think (Elliott) Ward and (Zak) Whitbread were colossal at the back and then you've got Wes (Hoolahan) and Foxy (David Fox) and Crofty's (Andrew Crofts') work-rate and (Andrew) Surman's class – I think you've got the makings of a really, really good side.'

And the goals are being shared around – Surman, Jackson, Russell Martin and Dani Pacheco on the scoresheet on Thursday

'I think the creativity we have got in the side is great,' said Lambert. 'I think you have got to have a bit of creativity because those lads can unlock certain things and if you can build components into the team and people have got different jobs to do you are hoping that all fits in. But I think the creativity we have got in the side is excellent.'

As the man says, it's a team bang in form.

'The thing that is noticeable is they seem to be playing without fear – sometimes you get to this stage of the season you might get a bit edgy, but the lads the way they are going at the minute is extraordinary, it really is.'

Football managers being what they are, the derby will be forgotten much more quickly than it will for those who follow from the stands.

City were back in action earlier than all their rivals, but go into today's game with extra rest. Does that help?

'I'm not sure because we had to go down to Swansea, then we had to play a hard game at Watford on the Tuesday then we had to play on Friday (against Nottingham Forest) and it does take its toll, there is no doubt about it, and again the character of the team was extraordinary with those three games in that week, so it definitely does take its toll.'

Swings and roundabouts, then. But don't expect Lambert to be writing down the various permutations.

'I have no control over outside influences. My job is to try to win Norwich City as many games as we can. We are doing not too bad in that department at the minute.'

You can say that again.

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