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Lambert puts faith in youth

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:29 06 July 2010

Paul Lambert may be forced to tap deep into the youth team resources at Carrow Road for tonight Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie at Gillingham.

The Canaries manager has been hit by a spate of bumps and knocks to add to a handful of definite absentees.

Paul Lambert may be forced to tap deep into the youth team resources at Carrow Road for tonight Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie at Gillingham.

The Canaries manager has been hit by a spate of bumps and knocks to add to a handful of definite absentees.

And while it gives an opportunity for the likes of Stephen Hughes, Tom Adeyemi and Cody McDonald to get valuable minutes under their belt, Lambert looks likely to include some unfamiliar names in his squad.

“We'll definitely struggle tomorrow,” said Lambert. “There's a few of them in there that are not going to make it, so maybe we need to look at the youth side of it again.”

Lambert has watched some of the next wave of young players performing at reserve team level and may decide it's time they got the chance to prove themselves in senior competition.

“We might need to go as far down as that,” he said. “I will have to see this morning.

“On enthusiasm, they will be up to it for sure. I don't have any problems throwing in the ones that I thought might come into the fray, but it's a big, big ask - one game you might get away with it, but needs must at times.”

The list of casualties reads like a who's who of the squad: Michael Spillane looks set to be out “for a few weeks” after suffering a hamstring injury on Saturday, while leading scorer Grant Holt is out with a leg problem.

Jon Otsemobor's hamstring problem means Korey Smith may have to continue at right back, Darel Russell has a neck injury and midfielders Owain Tudur Jones (calf) and Matt Gill (knee) are on the long-term list. Left back Rhoys Wiggins is still working his way back to full fitness and won't be considered.

Any prospect of striker Goran Maric stepping in have been ended by a groin injury, while Lambert even has to make a change in goal, with Declan Rudd away on England Under-19 duty this week, and also out of the trip to Carlisle on Saturday.

Lambert wasn't revealing just which players are carrying knocks, but there will be a clutch of young lads hoping to get the call from the manager - who also has to juggle with the competition rule that means he must name half a dozen first team regulars.

Right back is a problem, so George Francomb might come into the equation, while Dario Dumic can do a job at the back or in midfield. Big central defender David Stephens has been closer, having been named in four matchday squads, while old-fashioned left-winger Josh Dawkin has played well for the second string.

“I just have to see who's available, but whoever plays will go and do their best to go through,” Lambert said.

“We have to play six anyway, that's the rule of the competition, so some would have to go again. But we are struggling to pick a team with six available - there's not that number of players there.”

The first opportunity will be given to the teenagers that Lambert has introduced - and in whom he has shown faith.

“There is no doubt there is a nucleus of really young lads that might do something in the game,” he said. “If they keep their feet on the ground and they keep progressing and they keep learning they've got a great chance to do something. What level they go to remains to be seen, but if you look at the team since we've been here, Korey's been in it, Declan's been in it, Tom's been in it, Luke Daley's been in it - so there is a handful there that have come through the ranks here which is a unique thing now in modern day football for a club to get as many young ones coming through.”

Lambert will undoubtedly have one eye on the weekend trip to Carlisle, when he will need Holt to lead the attack - and hope Otsemobor recovers in time to replace Spillane.

“It will be a few weeks I think,” he said. “He was playing great I thought on Saturday. He's played centre-half and right back since we've been here and the last few games at right back. He's been doing really, really well, so it's a blow.”

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