Norwich City boss Lambert rules out Whitbread for the Black Cats

Injured Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread has been ruled out of Monday's televised Premier League home game against Sunderland.

Paul Lambert confirmed at his weekly pre-match press conference on Friday morning the American is still struggling with the hamstring problem originally suffered at Chelsea.

Whitbread has missed City's last two Premier League games but Lambert is hopeful the centre back will return to training next week ahead of the trip to champions Man United.

The City boss has no fresh injury concerns for Sunderland with Whitbread joined on the sidelines by defensive duo Elliott Ward (knee) and Dani Ayala (knee).

'Zak is not too far away,' said Lambert. 'Hopefully he will train next week. Wardy is doing really, really fine. Daniel is a bit away at present. Zak is probably the closest one to coming back. He'll train next week at some point. He has been doing work with the physios and the fitness lads here and if he is okay we'll see how he does. Everybody else seems okay.'

Lambert was again keeping everyone guessing when pushed on his starting line up for the Black Cats' visit after making six changes for the away league win at Bolton.

'I'll decide later on. Whatever team I pick I hope will win,' he said. 'Every player I trust. The lads who I pick, I trust them. I don't think anybody's inferior to any other person. I just think whatever team I pick will do their best to try to win and the lads, I thought, were excellent last week. I thought they deserved to win the game.

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'But I've been more than happy with how we're playing. I never have that worry that they won't give me everything they've got. That's one thing I've always felt here. I've never thought they've not been at it, apart from the MK Dons game, but one game in two and a bit years is exceptional. The way they've been playing, they've been excellent.'

Lambert also revealed League One Yeovil had made a fresh enquiry for out-of-favour young striker Oli Johnson. Glovers' boss Terry Skiverton failed with a transfer window bid for the former Stockport striker who has previously spent loan spells at Huish Park. Johnson has not been issued with a squad number at Carrow Road this season and recently had a trial at Scunthorpe.

'Terry phoned me yesterday (Thursday) and I've left it with him,' he said. 'Oli knows if anything does happen, but I've left it with Terry to make contact wh Norwich and see what he can do.'

Any potential move for Johnson would have to initially be on loan until the New Year transfer window. Lambert also has an open mind on whether any of his other fringe players go out on loan to Football League clubs now the emergency loan route is open. The likes of George Francomb have had limited or no opportunity to impress during City's early Premier League campaign.

'I've not had anything at the minute,' said Lambert. 'George is doing really, well, hopefully he's going to have a big career in front of him. But until somebody picks up the phone or asks me about the younger ones, then I might look at it.'