Norwich City boss Lambert praises young guns

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert insists he never had any fears his band of lower league recruits could shine in the Premier League.

City's remarkable rise under the Scot's stewardship shows little sign of slowing down with Saturday's battling 1-1 draw at Liverpool underlining Norwich's ability to compete with the very best.

The Canaries' boss was criticised in some quarters during the summer for continuing his policy of cherry-picking the best talent outside the Premier League.

Lambert's faith in the likes of inexperienced duo Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett has paid off so far after impressing the City chief in the opposition ranks.

'I saw Pilkington for Stockport when I was at Wycombe,' said Lambert. 'I think him and Bennett the way they have come out of League One football is unbelievable. Marc (Tierney) was another I knew from his Shrewsbury days.

'Ian (Culverhouse) and I knew a lot of lads who had played against us and it's like anything – when a good player hits your eye he tends to stay there and if there is a chance to give him an opportunity you look at it to bring them into an environment with better players, which might bring his game on.

'That is what has happened with a lot of lads. (Bradley) Johnson has quite rightly been talked about for the England thing but to get him for free and playing the best football he has for a long time is great. Foxy (David Fox) cost us �25,000 or whatever it was from Colchester at the time and he is another one.'

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Tierney's consistent Premier League displays recently saw the left back strongly linked with a potential international call up for the Republic of Ireland.

Pilkington is also eligible after featuring for the Republic's U21s back in 2008 and, along with Wes Hoolahan, Lambert believes the trio are good enough to play at the next level.

'They are meant to be looking at them and quite rightly so,' he said. 'You have three lads there on top of their game. Listen, that is up to the Republic of Ireland manager. It is his prerogative, but those three are playing really well at the minute.

'We saw Anthony at Stockport many years ago and I thought he was a handful then. He made great strides at Huddersfield and I always thought he was a threat because he uses both feet really well. I'm delighted for him. I heard some say he took a lot of criticism after the Man United game. I never really heard that to be honest, but right now his confidence will be as high as it's going to be.'