Norwich City exodus may include senior players
Norwich City are close to making the first of the highly-anticipated announcements of the close-season this week as preparations for the Premier League campaign begin to take shape.
The axe is set to fall on players who have failed to make the cut for the top flight as City's promotion claims its first casualties among the playing staff.
And a decision also has to be made on whether or not the club enters a team in the Premier Reserve League – having withdrawn the second string from the Totesport.com Combination League last season.
But the big talking point will be which players stay and which players go.
Lambert currently has 33 names on his squad list, including a number of senior players who made only a handful of first-team appearances between them last season and look to be under greatest threat.
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Defender Jens Berthel Askou and midfielder Matt Gill – among the nine players sent out on loan last season – are both out of contract this summer, while Steven Smith – who, like Stephen Hughes and Owain Tudur Jones has a year remaining – finished the season at Aberdeen and looks set to move back to Scotland after failing to settle in Norfolk.
A quartet of younger loanees – Cody McDonald, Tom Adeyemi, Oli Johnson and Luke Daley – also have a year remaining on their current deals. McDonald finished the campaign as Gillingham's top scorer and has been linked with a number of clubs in the Championship and League One, with Peterborough United chairman Darragh Macanthony admitting an interest in the 24-year-old.
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Lambert will have to decide whether their experiences at a lower level provided sufficient grounding for a Premier League campaign.
He has a clutch of young professionals – George Francomb, Jed Steer, Sam Habergham, Josh Dawkin and Matt Ball – with the remaining 19 players all featuring in his first-team squad that won promotion earlier this month.
That elevation in status also means City have to decide whether or not they want to become members of the Premier Reserve League.
Last season's reserve team games were generally held behind closed doors, with fixtures selected by the management, although they did enter a youthful second string in the Norfolk Senior Cup after an absence of two decades.
Lambert said at the time that the change would give him more flexibility over dates, places and, most important of all, standard of opposition for his players.
The standard of the Totesport.com Combination League was often questionable, but the Southern section of the Premier Reserve League, in which City would compete, has had its own problems. Last season only six teams – Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, West Brom, West Ham and Wolves – competed following the decision by Spurs, Birmingham City, Fulham and Stoke not to take part.
Participation is dependant on a club's membership of the Premier League, so West Ham will drop out – and Wolves could join them. City would be straight replacements, as would QPR, but the Championship winners made the same decision as City last year and pulled their reserve team out of the Totesport.com Combination League.