Lambert: Judge Was Brilliant, Keane Had Best Game for Town
Tuesday, 12th Feb 2019 19:24
Blues boss Paul Lambert has praised the performances of Alan Judge and Will Keane during Sunday’s local derby at Norwich City and says he’s hopeful that the former Brentford man might stay at Portman Road beyond the end of the season.
“I thought he was brilliant, I really did,” Lambert said of the 30-year-old’s display at Carrow Road.
“I thought as the game was going on he was getting stronger and better and they found it hard to cope with him, the way he was performing.
“I think by Judgy’s own admission, he thought he should have scored. But since he’s been here he’s been excellent, I’m delighted he’s here and he’ll get better and better as the weeks come.
“I think his performance got overshadowed by the other stuff which went with it.”
January signing Judge was given a more central role against the Canaries having operated in wider areas previously for Town.
“I just changed the system and got him central to the game where he can be more involved with it and I thought I’d see what he can do in there,” he added.
“I knew he played there anyway, so it wasn’t a surprise to me or him that he could do it because he has a threat and when he plays like that nobody can really get near him. I was delighted with how he played.”
Explaining the reason for the new system, which saw Freddie Sears play in a more advanced role and the Blues getting the ball forward more quickly on occasion, he continued: “We have to try and win games, we just have to go for everything now in 15 games to go. We have to try everything we can to try and force the issue.
“And that’s why we did it. And I think if you took the goals out of the game, we were well in the game, there was nothing in the game.
“We lost bad goals at certain times, especially the second one was a blow because we were in the ascendancy there and Matty Pennington, who I said I thought was excellent, tried a pass inside and they broke.
“But level-wise, commitment-wise and playing-wise, I couldn’t ask for any more.”
After another performance he'd been pleased with having yielded no points and with the Blues now nine plus goal difference from safety, Lambert admits he's ever more concerned about Town's Championship status.
“For God’s sake, yes," he said. "But we’re doing everything, nobody can say we went to Carrow Road and didn’t give them a game.
“They beat us by three goals but we were in the game, that game could have gone any way.
“They scored at the right moments, they’re top of the league, the momentum’s there with them. Whether they do it or not I don’t know, but as I said before, I’m pretty sure Leeds and others will have something to say about it. There’s a long, long way to go. It’s whether you can hold your bottle.
“It’s the same with us at the bottom, we’ve got to play with a lot of bottle, which we have been. I don’t think anybody can every complain the way we’ve tried to go and get the results.”
He says he'll accept any criticism which comes his way with some fans already having expressed their frustrations regarding results under his management, two wins, three draws and 12 defeats in 17 games.
“Absolutely, I never get caught up in it," he added. 'We’re trying everything we can to try and get results but I never ever get caught up in it. I can take pretty much anything that gets thrown at me.”
Judge’s short-term deal has an option for a further year, “more in the club’s favour”, according to the player, and Lambert is keen to take that up.
“Absolutely and I think Judgey wants to be here,” he said. “I think that’s a great thing as well. I think he wants to be here, I think he enjoys it. Yes, hopefully that gets sorted.”
Lambert was also impressed by striker Keane’s display at Norwich: “I thought he was excellent, he led the line fantastically, it was probably his best game for us and he deserved a bit more.
“He has to keep playing the same way but I thought his performance was very, very good."
Meanwhile, left-back Jonas Knudsen returned to the team at Carrow Road having been left out after indicating that he wanted to move on in January with his contract up at the end of the season.
“We never had any cross words,” Lambert insisted. “We spoke, we talked. There was absolutely no problem with Jonas whatsoever.
“I’ve said week after week, I think Jonas thought he was going to move at a certain time, I think everybody did.
“The club had to protect itself as well. If a left-back was to go we’d be left with only one left-back, it had to protect itself.
“As I said before, then all of a sudden nobody comes in for him, things fall through, anything can happen. You find yourself in a situation where you can’t play with the team you’re at and you can’t play at the team that you thought you were going to go to.
“It put him in a helluva position but I think that that was nothing to do with the club or myself, that was Jonas’s decision which you have to respect. I thought he did well on Sunday.”
Lambert has no doubt the Danish international will be giving his all for the remainder of the season.
“I think that was evident from him on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t think anybody could turn around and say that he pulled out of things or he never did anything other than the right thing, I don’t think anybody could be labelling him with anything other than that.”
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