Lambert: Picking the Team's Not a Tough Decision
Thursday, 12th Sep 2019 18:05
Boss Paul Lambert has dismissed suggestions that he has tough decisions to make when he picks his team as players become available after injuries.
Town began the season with numerous players who would view themselves as contenders for first-team places sidelined but gradually they are returning to fitness.
Gwion Edwards and Alan Judge are now back involved after groin and wrist injuries, Jon Nolan played in the Leasing.com Trophy tie against Tottenham’s U21s after his calf problem, while Toto Nsiala and Will Keane, both hamstring, played for the U23s earlier in the week.
Emyr Huws played his first competitive 90 minutes since the final day of the 2016/17 season against the Tottenham youngsters and is continuing his progress and Luke Garbutt is training again after hurting his knee in the second match of the season.
But despite having an increasingly big squad of senior players to choose from, Lambert rebuffed claims that he has a difficult job.
“You make no apology for it, [it’s up to the players to] get in the side. The guys make it easy for me, it’s not a tough decision, it’s easy,” Lambert insisted.
“Whoever plays well and I think I can really get the best out of, then great but it’s not a hard decision at all. People might think it is. You guys might think ‘How do you pick it?’ but it’s easy.”
He added: “There’s loads of aspects to how I decide who will play. It’s not something where I think, ‘Well, he’s going to be disappointed if I leave him out’.
"We need everybody and everybody is playing their part in the games but I don’t find it a difficult decision.”
Does he know his strongest XI when everyone is fit? “In my mind they’re all strong, in my mind every player’s as strong as each other, everybody’s vital to each other.
“I don’t have a disparity - this one’s better than that one or that one - because they’re all performing well. Whoever I play on that given day is the strongest team, I don’t have a problem.”
Lambert says nothing should be read into the team which started against Tottenham's U21s in the Leasing.com Trophy and also the U23s on Monday lining up in a 3-5-2 system.
“No, you guys probably write in your columns, whatever you want to do, ‘He’s played three or four [at the back]’,” he laughed.
“It’s irrelevant. We have our own way of playing. They’re playing that well. Listen, systems don't win you games, a system will never win you games, it’s players that win you games.
“If people hide behind the system, I don’t buy into that, whereas players win you games, and that’s what’s happening - the players are winning us games.”
He added: “I expect to do the job. It’s all about us, we analyse teams who we play against and look at it but ultimately it’s about us, how we play. We have to have our own way of playing and the lads know it, they know what I’m like now, they know what I expect of them and they have to live up to that.”
Reflecting further on his decision-making process, he said: “It’s easy. I think you’re looking into things which aren’t there. It’s really easy to pick a team, really easy.
"As long as the guys give me everything they’ve got and the play the way they’re playing, there’s never a problem.
“I know exactly how it works, I know exactly who can do what. I value them all the same across the board and we’re in a lot stronger position than we were against Burton, as I’ve always said.”
Asked whether he could pick two sides of similar strength from his squad, he reflected: “We’re strong, even the younger kids come into that, [Armando] Dobra and Idris [El Mizouni], we’re strong. What we have got now is competition for most places if everybody’s fit.
“I think that’s the beauty of it, that we can do what we want and we can look at the bench and think, ‘Right, we can change that there or there’, whereas before I thought we were two lightweight in that area.”
Quizzed on whether that strength brings pressure, he pointed out that his squad is hardly one assembled at great cost and that a number of regulars are inexperienced.
“I think everybody's getting deluded with that because we've bought one player in Kane Vincent-Young,” he said. “We spent £500,000 on him. Everybody else has been free or an academy player coming through.
"So we’ve bought one player. [James] Norwood was free, the ones I brought in, [Alan] Judge, nothing. You go through, [Tomas] Holy was free, Will Norris is a loan, so there’s one player we’ve bought.
“We haven’t been the big spenders in the division, what you have got is that we’re the biggest club along with Sunderland in the division with the fanbase.
“That’s not going to win you a title, just because you’re a big club, it doesn’t win you anything. If that was the case Sunderland wouldn’t been out of the league long ago.
“We have to earn the right but we've got a good young side, who will make mistakes, that's normal, and who are learning while doing their job.
“[Luke] Woolfenden, he’s a kid, Flynn Downes, they’re kids but what they are doing is doing really, really well and they're belying their age and everybody’s thinking, ‘They’re experienced players’, but they're not, they're still learning.”
Asked whether 11-v-11 games in training are close affairs, he added: “It’s intense when they play. Training is always intense. If you ask them, that’s the way we work, the intensity of training is high but I think they enjoy it, which is important. And when everybody’s fit we’ve for a strong, strong squad.”
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