Norwich City boss Lambert’s word of advice for Ward
Paul Lambert has told Elliott Ward not to sacrifice his defensive duties.
Ward is renowned as a 'footballing' centre-half, but the City boss says there is a time and a place for niceties of the game.
'Sometimes it is too much for my liking,' said Lambert. 'At certain times.
'I've told him that I pay him to defend. Anything he does going forward is an absolute bonus, but I pay him to defend and that's his job.'
However, Lambert says he is 'over the moon' with Ward's performances – and those of his other centre-halves – this season.
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The Canaries boss takes his team to Selhurst Park on Boxing Day without the suspended Leon Barnett, meaning Ward and Michael Nelson will once again be required to stand firm in front of keeper John Ruddy.
Injury had restricted Nelson to an early-season cameo before his reappearance at Coventry last Saturday, while Barnett has filled the gap in his long absence.
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The permanent is Ward, who has missed just one game – coincidentally, the 2-1 home defeat by Palace in October – since moving to Carrow Road on a free transfer last summer.
Lambert believes he picked up another of his famous bargains.
'If you are talking about ability for a centre half he has got it in abundance,' said Lambert.
'Is he value for money? Hands down. He has been absolutely colossal, him and Barnett and Nelson for his first game back in three months or so. For somebody who cost you nothing the way he (Ward) is performing – I am absolutely over the moon with him.'
City head south with back-to-back away wins against top-six sides tucked under their belts. Palace are struggling in the relegation zone, but while another away win would take the Canaries to within 11 points of the 50-point safety mark, Lambert has warned his side they must not get complacent.
'If we are not at it then they will turn us over,' he added. 'We have to be on our game and if we can keep playing the way we have been then hopefully we will win.
'But we're not good enough to just turn up and think that we're going to win.'
Weather conditions have had an effect in Norfolk, with Carrow Road and the indoor facility at the Colney training centre coming into use, albeit reluctantly on the manager's part.
'It does have an effect if you're in the dome or the arena,' said Lambert. 'We don't want to keep using Carrow Road as we want to try and protect the pitch. Sometimes though it's the only option that we've got.
'The lads will still be in, but we don't have to train as you would normally do. We've got a lot of games in quick succession.