Norwich can compete with Cardiff’s riches
Norwich City boss Paul Lambert could be forgiven for casting envious glances down Cardiff's squad list ahead of today's Championship contest.
Injury-permitting, Bluebirds' counterpart Dave Jones can unleash a multi-million pound rated frontline that would not look out of place in the Premier League.
Jay Bothroyd's 'Indian' summer has brought him a full England cap this season as the targetman finally starts to deliver on long overdue promise dating back to his days as one of Arsenal's brightest academy prospects.
Michael Chopra arrived in south Wales last season with a �4m price tag and duly fired 21 goals to propel Cardiff all the way to a Wembley play-off final while Craig Bellamy needs little introduction to Canaries fans. The Welshman has lived his career at the sharp end. Famed as much through off-the-field skirmishes with authority as the rapier turn of speed and clinical eye for goal that saw him blossom alongside Alan Shearer in a potent Newcastle strikeforce.
Lambert rang in 2011 with a move for MK Dons hitman Aaron Wilbraham. A contrast in no way meant as a slight on the well-travelled lower league striker – just further evidence to underline the uneven playing field both Lambert and chief executive David McNally have been at pains to stress during various points of another potentially stellar campaign.
City have undoubtedly punched above their collective weight. Today's team sheets may underline that like no other Championship game so far this season. Nevertheless, the Scot and his tightly-knit squad have earned the right to be mentioned as genuine contenders to take the ultimate step. To reach the land of milk and honey.
McNally made it abundantly clear in the backwash of Burnley's pursuit of Lambert that the club's transfer strategy, both in what remains of this window and moving forward, remains unaltered. Lambert will still have to cut his cloth tightly. Marc Tierney earlier this week joined Wilbraham and Leon Barnett on permanent moves. But maybe City's boss will once again consider judicious use of the emergency loan market which produced Stephen Elliott last March. The Northern Irishman was never likely to dislodge Grant Holt or Chris Martin but his brace at Huddersfield in a hard-fought comeback League One away win was one of those momentum-gathering displays that helped City eventually sweep all before them.
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City with McNally and Lambert at the helm are no longer a soft touch on or off the park. If Lambert does manage to snare his targets this month then rest assured they enter the building on Norwich's terms.
Wes Hoolahan is the only City survivor who started when Cardiff last visited Carrow Road in March 2009. That in itself is an admission of the blood-letting and regenerative healing process the Canaries have undergone in the interim period. Cardiff may have been able to shop in the more salubrious parts of the footballing High Street, but the league table suggests Norwich should harbour no inferiority complex today.