Norwich City defender Whitbread ruled out of Liverpool return

Norwich City defender Zak Whitbread has been ruled out of a Premier League reunion at former club Liverpool this weekend with his long term hamstring injury.

City chief Paul Lambert confirmed on Friday morning the American centre back will not be considered for the trip to Anfield. Whitbread did not feature as part of a strong reserve line up against Aston Villa in midweek at Crrow Road. The ex-Reds' trainee is back in training, but still not ready to be drafted into Lambert's first team planning following the hamstring injury originally damaged at Chelsea.

Lambert reported no fresh injury concerns with fellow defenders Elliott Ward and Dani Ayala still out with knee injuries. Steve Morison was withdrawn early during last weekend's 3-1 league win over Swansea, but the Welshman is fit for selection.

'Zak won't be available for tomorrow,' said Lambert. 'It's taking a little bit longer than we thought but I don't want to rush him. He is doing fine at the minute. I won't rush him to get back. If you do that, you might get problems later on so let him be fine in himself and hopefully he'll not be too far.

'Dani is doing really well. His rehab has gone well. Wardy has taken a bit slower than what we thought but he is doing fine.'

Lambert knows City's recent winning run faces a major test at Anfield.

'It's as hard a place as everywhere else in this league,' he said. 'The magnitude of the task is huge for us. As I said before, and I get sick of saying it, but we have earned the right to go up and play them. It's a club that has great tradition, with the history it has got and the players who have played right up to this current era.

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'We're not frightened by it. We won't go up there with any fear of trepidation. We'll go and try to win the game they way we did at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford. Yeah, we got beat but we gave it ago and we'll give this one a go as well and see if we can win. We're playing well at a high level of football and at this minute in time we are a match for all of the teams but we have to sustain that. There is only a handful of games that have gone. The nature of top level football is your concentration has to be right. You have to be able to handle it. That is the level the lads aspire to be. They are a top side.'

Lambert believes compatriot Kenny Dalglish is the man to recapture the glory days at the five-time European Cup winners.

'You are talking about a club with the same history and tradition as Man United,' he said. 'The time I was growing up they were the team of the 1980s with Kenny and people like Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen playing. They were the best team going at that time. They are not the Liverpool of old but it is still the same crowd. I'm pretty sure the ambition is to try and get back in that top four, but there is a host of other teams up there who will want to do the same. They have come a long way already since he went back as manager.'