Norwich City set their sights on top three

It's as you were for Canaries boss Paul Lambert this afternoon – although the Boxing Day call-off at Crystal Palace has had a knock-on effect.

While the frozen pitch at Selhurst Park has given defender Russell Martin and midfielder Wes Hoolahan extra time to recover from thigh injuries, it also means that Leon Barnett's two-game suspension for improper conduct starts this afternoon against Sheffield United – ruling him out of the game against leaders Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

The weekend holiday break hasn't altered Lambert's selection – Martin and Hoolahan remain doubts while Andrew Crofts has recovered from illness and will be available.

Adam Drury is back in training and perhaps the closest of the injured players to a return to action, although it's unlikely Lambert will call on his services unless absolutely necessary.

A year ago City were preparing their charge towards the League One title – they started 2010 in third place and went on a six-game winning run to overhaul Charlton and Leeds for good.

Victory this afternoon could see them end the year in third – although it would need Leeds and Swansea to lose at home to Portsmouth and Barnsley respectively.

A draw today would ensure City finish the year in the play-off places – with Lambert then hoping for success in bringing in the three new signings he has earmarked for the final push over the remaining four months or so.

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While Lambert will be happy to see his players in action after the Boxing Day disappointment, his opposite number, caretaker boss John Carver, has bigger problems, with the Blades languishing two places above the drop zone.

Carver is working against a background of uncertainty given the managerial vacancy caused by Gary Speed's departure to take over as Wales manager – and saw his side go down 3-2 at home to Hull on Sunday.

Andy Taylor and Stephen Quinn picked up first-half injuries and are now major doubts for this afternoon, when the Blades need to shrug off the disappointment of losing to Jimmy Bullard's injury-time winner.

'I've got a mixture of anger, annoyance and some pleasure,' he said. 'I thought the character and commitment that we showed after the interval was absolutely superb.

'That has never been in doubt. But there have been times when we lacked a bit of quality. I thought the first half was very difficult because it never got going.

'There was never any real flow because we picked up a bad injury to Andy Taylor and they picked up a bad injury to Kevin Kilbane.

'The fact that we conceded a goal so early was disappointing because it wasn't as if we hadn't prepared for what they were going to do. We knew that they were going to get the ball behind us and turn us. I thought in the second half we looked like the side that was going to win the game.

'I'm gutted for the lads because they gave everything. They had a right go and dragged themselves back into the game.'