Vaughan’s return to Norwich City duty softens the blow for Paul Lambert

James Vaughan's long-awaited comeback was a major plus point for Paul Lambert.

The former England U21 international striker's Carrow Road career has been signposted by a series of injuries culminating in knee ligament surgery following the club's Premier League win over Sunderland back in September.

Vaughan looked sharp in the final 30 minutes of City's FA Cup fifth round exit following two goalscoring reserve outings as he bids to step up his match fitness. Lambert is convinced the ex-Evertonian can help shape the rest of Norwich's season as part of a revised first team squad that also includes recent Leeds midfield recruit Jonny Howson.

The Norwich City boss confirmed Howson will begin training with the rest of the squad this week following his own knee problem that has kept him out of the game since December.

Arsenal's scheduled Premier League reserve visit to Norfolk tomorrow is likely to come too soon in Howson's rehab – but Lambert believes he now has a senior group to last the course over the league run-in.

'For James and Wardy (Elliott Ward) and Howson to come back is like having new players,' he said, with fellow January signing Ryan Bennett set to finally sever his Peterborough ties at the end of the current month.

'I think Tuesday might be a bit too soon for Jonny. It's not a bad squad. I thought James looked lively when he came on and that him and (Aaron) Wilbraham caused a few problems. Vaughan has been out for such a long period of time, but in those 30 minutes I thought he did really fine. I'm pretty sure he'll benefit from having that time on the field and hopefully he can be a big player for us for the remainder of these 13 games.'

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Lambert knows he will need every available option at his disposal to try and halt Manchester United's Premier League title charge this coming weekend.

'We've got a few lads to come back for next week and hopefully we'll have a big squad to pick from,' he said. 'We're up against one of the best teams in European football, the way they're playing and the players they've got, the manager, the history. It's a fantastic football club.

'They've already beaten us up there, but we did okay on that day. We know how hard it's going to be. I watched them (on television) the other night and they were excellent.'