Norwich City boss Lambert has plans for more signings
Paul Lambert made his intentions perfectly clear yesterday when he revealed the first ace in his four-card trick which could take Norwich City back to the Premier League.
The City boss has agreed an undisclosed fee – what he called 'a steal' – with West Bromwich Albion to turn Leon Barnett's loan deal into a three-and-a-half-year permanent move in January and has handed the board the names of three other players he wants to bolster the ranks during the transfer window.
What happens will depend on two things: City reaching a point where survival isn't an issue, and still being in the hunt at the top end of the table.
The general consensus is that around 50 points will keep you in the Championship – City are currently on 33 and therefore need to win six games from the remaining 26.
If that should happen and City are still 'punching above their weight' as Lambert describes it, then, he says, 'we have to go for it'.
'I told the board the players that I want in, so they know who I want,' he said.
'They know I need players in. First and foremost we have to get to that magic figure to keep us in the league and then do that and if we are still hovering about, we have to go for it.
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'But first and foremost I have always said is to get safe, and if we're safe and we're hovering about up there then we have to go for it and to go for it I need players in here to give that group a hand.
'People shouldn't think we have loads of money all over the place, because there's not.
'But hopefully we get a hand – and I am sure we will.
'If we are round about and I know we can be safe and we are doing okay but we are still up near where we are, we have to try and do everything we can.
'The spirit they (the players) have got is great and the three lads I want to come in would be huge for us, huge. But I need them in, I need players in.
'We have to keep improving the squad, driving on – you never stand still, that's for sure.'
Henri Lansbury's loan from Arsenal expires after next week's game at Coventry – Arsene Wenger holds the key to an extension, with Lambert knowing a permanent move isn't going to happen.
Lambert's judgment on signings has rarely let him down, but Barnett has performed above and beyond the call of loan duty – certain compared to some temporary residents from previous years – which is exactly why the move has happened.
'We have just about agreed with West Brom that he will be ours permanently in January, which is great for us,' said Lambert.
'I think he has been brilliant for us and it is great for him and the biggest compliment I can give him is for somebody who came on loan you would have thought from day one he was ours permanently, the way he has been playing.
'For him to be the way he is and want to stay, which is great, and getting him for the money we got him for, in my view was an absolute steal.'
Barnett has made 17 consecutive appearances since joining no loan – all but one alongside Elliott Ward – after Michael Nelson suffered an ankle injury against Swansea in August.
'Your cornerstone has got to be strong,' said Lambert. 'Michael Nelson was really unfortunate with the time he went out with his ankle against Swansea and we had to get somebody in.
'We tried to get Leon last year to come on loan but we couldn't do it. This year we were fortunate enough to do it.
'It's not just his general football, I think as a guy he is a top, top bloke, but if you are talking about people putting their body on the line for you, you would certainly go for him.
'I'm pretty sure there have been people casting their eye over him, but you just have to hope he enjoys it here that much and likes working with the lads, likes working with the group and the training.
'I think you just have to hope those sort of things swing in your favour. If you man manage things right and they like the training that Ian (Culverhouse) and I give them you are hoping money is not always going to be turning their heads.'