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Lambert: All the Guys Did Well
Friday, 6th Dec 2019 13:43

Blues manager Paul Lambert was pleased with Barry Cotter’s display in Wednesday’s on-penalties Trophy victory at Peterborough and felt there wasn't one failure in his young team at London Road.

The right-back, who netted the winning spotkick on his 21st birthday, was making his first senior appearance in 20 months.

Perhaps uniquely, the Irish youngster made his debut under Mick McCarthy, making a big impression on fans in the 1-0 April 2018 victory over Barnsley, his second appearance during Bryan Klug’s spell as caretaker-boss in the 4-0 win at Reading in the penultimate game of that campaign, and this week his third for Paul Lambert.

Asked whether Cotter had played himself into contention for further senior games - with the Blues short at right-back due to Kane Vincent-Young’s injury - Lambert said: “They all have. There’s not one player, I just pick a team that I think can win a game and all the guys, Barry did well, all the guys did well, there wasn’t one failure in the team.”

Tuesday’s FA Cup replay with Coventry will be the Blues’ sixth midweek game in a row and the fixtures will continue to come thick and fast over the next couple of months at least.

Quizzed on whether he’ll have to rely on his young players to get through all those matches, Lambert responded: “If I think they’re good enough then yes. I won’t just put them in for the sake of making up numbers. If I think they’re good enough, I’ll play them and that will never change.

“If I think they’re good enough then I’ll put them in because I know they have to learn, they have to learn at some stage what it’s like.

“I’m a great believer that when you’re in there you will survive if you do everything right.

“But you have to give me the problem from what I see here on the training ground and what I see here then transfer that on to a Saturday.

“And all the guys have done it. Tommy Smith was excellent the other night, Hendo [Alex Henderson] was excellent the other night, [Brett] McGavin is getting better.

“People are forgetting [Armando] Dobra and [Idris] El Mizouni, they’re kids but what’s happened with those two is people have fallen into the grave trap of [thinking of] them being first-team players. They’re kids, and they’re doing great for us, and there are so many plus things there.

“Give the club a few years, and if those lads progress the way they are, then it’s going to be in a really good place.”

Lambert included 11 academy players in his squad against Peterborough and eight have made their debuts in the Trophy this season. Was the strength of the academy part of why he was keen on the job when he took charge just over a year ago?

“It’s not one thing I thought about, ‘Where are we with the kids?’. I see it with my own eye. I don’t need somebody to tell me when I come into a football club what’s right and what’s wrong, my own eyes are my best analysis tool.

“I think if kids are good enough [they get their chance], which I’ve done even with the younger kids, Tawanda [Chirewa] and Gibbo [Liam Gibbs] being in it, there’s wee Jack Manly [U15s forward] there, if he was fit he would round about it, and he’s just a kid as well.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I didn’t have a manager when I was growing up myself at 15 to give me an opportunity I wouldn’t be sitting here, so that’s why I’m never fearful of it.

“And if anything goes wrong it’s my problem, it’s not the kids’ problem because I’m putting them in there because I think they have to learn, they have to grow, they have to be in a man’s environment because that’s where they want to aspire to be as a footballer.

“And the club can’t go and buy players, it can’t do it, so it has to rear its own and when you rear your own you need time for them to develop, and if you do that then the club is in a really good place.”

As a manager you always have to have one eye on the future? “That’s it because the club isn’t going to change in the next few years. [Owner] Marcus [Evans] has done great with the way he is running the club.

“It’s not got the financial muscle that a lot of teams have got. It’s not got it any more, so it has to go with the kids.

“But they have to have time and everybody has to buy into it, it’s never going to be a quick fix. But if you give them time in a few years, you’ll get the fruition of it, that’s for sure.”

Photo: Pagepix

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