Norwich City boss Lambert aims to buck FA Cup trend
Norwich's previous brush with knockout cup football this season ended with Paul Lambert fronting up to accept full responsibility for his side's abject surrender – the Scot wants no such repeat this afternoon.
City's 4-0 Carling Cup home reverse to MK Dons in August marked arguably the low point of another stellar campaign which sees Norwich enter the New Year securely in the Premier League's top 10.
Lambert shuffled his pack against lower league opposition and had to suffer the consequences, but City's League Cup exit is not a bitter memory playing on the manager's mind during this week's Clarets' build-up.
'No, not really,' he said. 'That was the only time I felt really disappointed because we just never turned up that night. You can get those sorts of games. That can happen at any time and in any competition. It did that night, but that is to take nothing away from MK Dons. They deserved to go through, but I have got no worries what team I will pick.
'This game is every bit as important as any other game. Since I've been down in England it has been vital to try and have a good stab at it. We got knocked out last year by Leyton Orient, the first year up at Carlisle, so it's not been great for me, the FA Cup. The main thing was to try and get out of the leagues.
'The Premier League is our main focus and we want to try and stay in the league, but that does not detract that we want to get through to the next round and that is what we'll try to do.'
Lambert sought to dampen down expectation levels before and after Fulham's league visit seven days ago. The Scot knows what is expected as Norwich attempt to buck a miserable historical trend in the world famous competition.
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'We'll try. Whatever team I pick we'll try to get through,' he said. 'It doesn't matter what game it is. You have a lot of people coming to watch and it is a fantastic cup competition and if you are in something you go and try to win it.
'That view will never change. I'm sure people thought we would do well against Leyton Orient and we got turned over. This will be a really hard game. It wasn't that long ago that we were playing against them and they beat us 2-1 up at Burnley the last time we played them. The expectancy level has always been there; whether you are playing Burnley or not, especially at home, we are expected to win. I don't feel that on my shoulders at all, just because we are playing someone from the Championship. We might not win every game here, but the expectancy level is always there to perform.'
Lambert was high on Burnley's managerial wish-list this time last season to replace the outgoing Brian Laws before the Clarets' hierarchy took the hint and switched their attentions to another young prospect in Eddie Howe. For Lambert, that chapter is firmly in the past.
'There was a lot of stuff in the media and I said at the time that it got well out of hand,' he said. 'I never had any reason to over-elaborate on what I said. Everyone else seemed to be surmising that I was going to go, just because I never said anything, but I don't need to go out of my way to explain myself. Eddie is only young, but coming from Bournemouth and then experiencing his first taste of the Championship and going again this year, I think they are doing really fine.'
Lambert made a combined total of nine changes to his starting line-ups for the New Year double header against Fulham and QPR. The underlying message delivered yesterday was to expect more of the same.
'You just try and tick them over and hope that they recover. We changed it from Fulham to QPR and the lads came through it really strong,' he said. 'Even the ones who had not played for a few weeks and a few months came in and made a difference. Saturday to Monday was a really short turnaround, but the lads have been different class.
'That is the thing I have got here. I trust them to go and perform. I don't have any reservations about throwing them in. I thought Simon (Lappin) was excellent considering he had not played for such a long time. His energy levels were terrific and that is one thing you can say about him.
'I don't isolate anybody. The ones who have been with me from virtually day one have always been round about me. It's great if you can do that. I try and treat them the right way and manage them the right way.
'They know how we play and what their team-mates give them. It's not like I have to tell them three or four times.'
Left-back Marc Tierney is making good progress from the groin injury which sidelined him for the festive period, but Lambert stated yesterday Burnley's visit may have come too soon for the defender.
Midfielder Andrew Crofts has returned to training after missing the QPR win with a bug and is available for selection. Ritchie De Laet (back) is definitely ruled out along with Tottenham loanee Kyle Naughton, who has been blocked from featuring by his parent club. Lambert also revealed any permanent move for the Spurs full-back is unlikely on financial grounds after speaking to Harry Redknapp on Thursday.
The City manager is no further forward on attracting new recruits now the January transfer window is open for business. Lambert also confirmed no detailed discussions have taken place with any of City's senior stars out of contract in the summer.
'Not at the minute,' he said. 'I think there is too much going on at the minute. I think the league is so intense and that is the main priority at this club – to try and stay in this league. That is the main thing.
'I don't think Kyle would ever be a permanent beyond the end of the season. I don't think we could afford him, but he'll be available for the rest of the season, starting with West Brom.'
Lambert has sanctioned a loan extension for young academy product Tom Adeyemi - who featured for Oldham on Friday night in the FA Cup at Liverpool. Adeyemi who will remain with the Latics until at least January 31.