Norwich City boss insists he will be up for the cup
David Fox and Wes Hoolahan are set for a return to City colours this afternoon as manager Paul Lambert attempts to balance his priorities.
The City boss has injury and fitness issues to consider, as well as ensuring City get past the hurdle of Leyton Orient and ensure their name goes into the hat for the fourth round draw.
'There will be one or two changes because of the amount of football the lads have played,' he admitted. 'But I am not undervaluing the competition. Everybody knows the league is always your main priority and you make no apologies for that, but that is not to say I am not going to be going out there with the same enthusiasm, the same hunger and drive to go and get through.
'We have to try and get through and if we do that you never know who we might get in the next round. I am not going to go into it thinking, 'it's the FA Cup, if we get knocked out I won't be disturbed about it'. I want to win. It is important for the club, and fans are paying a lot of money to come and watch it so you have a duty then not to let them down.'
Lambert is unlikely to give any youngsters a run-out, especially with some senior players needing game time.
'We are not too bad,' he said. 'We will probably be getting Foxy back and hopefully Wes will be back – although people seem to think he will be away somewhere getting a medical, which is a nonsense.
Adam Drury still needs game time, having played two on the bounce in the space of three days after a long lay-off, while news from the treatment room has been encouraging.
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'(Andrew) Surman is doing great, (Elliott) Ward is doing great, (Henri) Lansbury is doing fine, albeit his loan is up next weekend,' said Lambert. 'Steven (Smith) is still out, Stephen Hughes is doing fine – so you are slowly but surely geting there.'
Lambert will have to wait for Arsenal to make the final decision on Lanbsury.
'He's their player,' he said. 'We have been really unfortunate with him with this injury because the games he has played he has been excellent.'
Lambert is still in the market for another couple of players, with Coventry boss Aidy Boothroyd yesterday claiming one of them was Colchester left-back Marc Tierney, who played under Lambert at Colchester and once famously said he would never play for the Canaries. Tierney has rejected a new contract offer.
'He's a very good player and I know Norwich are interested in him,' said Boothroyd.
Lambert refuses to name names, but says talks are still on-going with his targets.
'There are still certain areas where we are probably not as strong as others,' Lambert said. 'For example, if Adam Drury went out and Steve Smith was out you are putting Simon (Lappin), who's a midfield player, back to left back. It's not ideal, but he was brilliant there, it was terrific what he did. But that is not your ideal scenario, so if you have any proper aspirations of driving it on, in an ideal world you want players playing in the right positions.
'There are ones you want to try and get in – whether you can do it or not remains to be seen.'
Lambert has three players out on loan: George Francomb returns from his spell with League Two Barnet next Sunday, Cody McDonald is up for the League Two player of the month award after his scoring exploits at Gillingham, where he will spend the season, while Tom Adeyemi looks set to stay at Bradford after his six-month deal expires this month.
Francomb's return means there is genuine, if inexperienced, cover for Russell Martin, whose performances at right-back have been a feature of recent weeks.
'The thing with Russell Martin is he is an absolutely brilliant top pro and his performances at the minute are at a really high standard,' said Lambert.
'I had him at Wycombe and I knew exactly what type of lad he was. He is really low maintenance, a brilliant pro – and that is the biggest compliment I can give him. His game is at another level, which is great for him, great for me and great for the club.
'As a pro and a lad you won't get any better.'