We’ve all got our wishlists, we’ve all seen the rumours that fly around, and many of us are curious as to what sort of team is going to walk out on that sunny afternoon in August. I personally imagine it wouldn’t be much different from the one that walked out a couple of weeks ago at Pompey, as I think everyone who got us promoted will get a chance to prove themselves.
But money will be spent, and players will be brought in. We know the sort of characteristics Lambert goes after; hungry players with something to prove, no egos, and players who fit his system. But ultimately, this is nothing but the speculation of a bored blogger with little better to do.
Today it’s going to be wingers that I look at. Here are a few of the options that are available to Lambert.
Elliott Bennett – Brighton
The most obvious name on the list. We tried to buy Bennett back in January, having a seven figure attempt knocked back by the Brighton board, even in the face of a transfer request. The former Wolves academy prospect has been in magical form for Brighton this year, knocking in 6 goals and 17 assists from the flank as the Seagulls stormed to promotion. He’s as good as his word too. He never held anything against Brighton when they refused to sanction a move, playing with as much heart and effort after January as he did before, paying back the fans who were so vocal in trying to keep him. He came out and said all the right things in an interview just after our promotion, promising to knuckle down and try and help Brighton achieve just what we had; back to back successes. A player with sense, ability and a good character, it is clear to see why Lambert has been so publically interested. Probably the most likely of any player on this list. Can hit a freekick too.
Possible transfer fee: £2m.
Matt Phillips – Blackpool
Another football league player come good. Phillips moved from Wycombe to Blackpool at the start of the season, at a time when Norwich were occasionally linked to him. Pacey, very direct and good with the ball at his feet, Phillips has made the transition from lower league to Premier League with no fuss. He puts in eye catching performances whether he starts or is on the bench and has contributed with a goal and a few assists. In honesty, we’re only likely to get Phillips if Blackpool get relegated. This is still quite likely, though they did themselves a huge favour yesterday. Holloway brought him in as one for the future so any transfer may be unlikely even if they do go down, but a talented winger with years ahead of him is not going to hang around for long. Bigger things than Blackpool await Phillips and he’s my favourite of all those listed here.
Possible transfer fee: £1.5m
Danny Green – Dagenham and Redbridge
Another young winger to have paid his dues low down the football pyramid, Green turned out for Bishops Stortford before his move to Dagenham. He’s come on leaps and bounds since then, turning in performance after performance in spite of Dagenhams relegation from League One. Lambert is a known admirer as he himself has turned up to Daggers games to watch Green as well as other reported target, Romain Vincelot, but unlike Bennett, no January bid was forthcoming (or at least public). Green is one player certain to leave Dagenham after their relegation but question marks remain over his ability to step up two divisions to the Premier League, with a move to the Championship much more likely. Still, a young hungry player with bags of potential, you can see why Lambert has taken an interest. He’s got a dozen goals and a dozen assists in all competitions this year, so he knows what he’s doing at the business end of the pitch too.
Possible transfer fee: £1m
Nathan Dyer/Scott Sinclair – Swansea
The tandem act down the Swansea flanks, Dyer and Sinclair may well end up in the Premiership anyway if the Jacks win the playoffs, which at the moment they’ve got a great chance of doing. Norwich haven’t really been linked to either player beyond the odd message board musings of our own supporters, but both have attracted praise for their part in Swansea’s fortunes this year. They play a huge part in Swansea’s style, helping move the ball from back to front at speed, running at defenders and causing no end of problems. There is a distinct difference in ability between the two, mind. Dyer is all pace; he commits defenders and causes problems but, as a footballer, is often lacking in ability. Perfect for the Championship, I personally would doubt his chances of stepping up. Sinclair, on the other hand, has technique as well as speed, turning defenders inside out and keeping the ball strapped to his foot. Maybe it’s his background at Chelsea, but he’s much more likely to cope with the step up. And lets face it, we’re getting neither of them if Swansea go up.
Possible transfer fee: Dyer: £2m, Sinclair : £4m
Will Buckley – Watford
We haven’t been linked to Will Buckley, this is just me talking. I like the guy. 4 goals and 6 assists from 27 games is a good return for the boy signed from Rochdale and he checks all the boxes; young, hungry, talented and little ego. Working under Malky will do him good as, despite their ploughed field of a pitch, Watford like to play decent attacking football, something that has also helped another standout youngster there: Sordell. Buckley was so dominant in Watfords 4-1 win over Cardiff in December that he got special treatment in the return fixture, being fouled by most of the Cardiff team who clearly saw him as the main threat. Maybe a move to the Premier League is a year too early for him, but he’s going to get his chance. He’s one of Mackay’s most valued players and if he puts in performances next year as good as those this, he’ll be moving up quickly.
Possible transfer fee: £2m