Paul Lambert full of praise for Norwich City goalkeeper Jed Steer
Paul Lambert admitted teenage debutant Jed Steer is a special talent – but the Norwich City boss wants his young charge to keep feet firmly on the ground.
Steer's maturity and calm assurance at The Hawthorns betrayed the hard evidence of a 19-year-old making his first senior appearance for his hometown club with an all too rare last 16 place in the FA Cup at stake.
The youngster fully justified Lambert's faith with a superb reaction stop to push Jerome Thomas' half volley onto the underside of his crossbar that set the tone for a dream debut. Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson goals either side of Marc Antoine Fortune's leveller fired the club into the fifth round. But Steer was the headline act.
'I thought his saves were world class. I really did. I thought he was terrific,' said Lambert. 'It's only one game for him but he has a great enthusiasm for it and he is a really level-headed lad.
'I thought the main difference which was so impressive was his handling throughout the game – but he made two exceptional saves. I thought the one in the first half was world class. I've never had any fear about putting any of the younger boys in; the same with Korey (Smith) and Dec (Rudd).
'You just don't know until someone gets an opportunity and if they don't get an opportunity how do you know? I knew his temperament was great and that he could handle a crowd and handle playing behind the defence.
'He trains with us every day, which is great. I think he has got the makings to be a really top keeper. The football club is very fortunate to have three top goal keepers. He looks very mature for his age, but he is only a boy.'
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Steer's display underlined why Lambert has no intention of rushing into the January transfer market to unearth experienced cover for first choice John Ruddy with injured back-up Rudd ruled out for up to two months.
'Would I have any fears about throwing him in for a league game? None whatsoever,' he said.
'I have had loads of people ringing me trying to get goalkeepers into the football club, but I didn't have to respond to it because I had great faith that he wouldn't let us down. He hasn't so far. It's only one game that lad has played, but he has the potential.
'People have to remember that, but if he stays level-headed and keeps his career going and remains humble then he can have a massive career. I'm pretty sure going to Yeovil in a roundabout way was great for him.
'He did fine down there but things are a little bit different to come into an FA Cup tie, no disrespect to Yeovil, against a Premier League team.
'I just told him this morning (Saturday) what I was going to do but I also told him there was no pressure on him; just go and enjoy it.
'He had nothing to prove to me. I didn't want him to go and do something that was alien to him. Just play his own way.'
Steer had no chance with Fortune's equaliser after Thomas had mugged Russell Martin tight to his own byline, but Lambert remained convinced City's propensity for late goals ensured the visitors could have the final say.
'I always think we can score. That is the way it has been for the last two-and-a-half years and the amount of late goals we score has been well-documented,' he said.
'That comes from a great desire from the team to win things. You know we'll create. At the end of the day we might not do it, but we gave it a right good go. I think at 1-0 up just after half-time you know the game can always turn.
'West Brom put you under a lot of pressure. We lost a really poor goal from our point of view and Jed has had to make some important saves to keep us in the game, but I always felt we could score.'