Paul Lambert’s rising stock is no surprise to Neil Lennon

Celtic manager Neil Lennon always knew Paul Lambert would make a top coach and is relishing the opportunity to go up against his old team-mate in the dugout for Adam Drury’s testimonial at Norwich tonight.

The Scottish Premier League champions are set to take a strong side down to Carrow Road, where veteran defender Drury will be honoured for his 11 seasons’ service with Norwich.

Lambert, 42, has performed a minor miracle since taking charge at the Norfolk club in August 2009, masterminding successive promotions up from npower League One and then comfortably securing top-flight status with a respectable 12th-place finish.

Hide Ad

The former Borussia Dortmund and Celtic midfielder – who won four SPL titles during his time at Parkhead under Martin O’Neill – has inevitably been linked with a move away from Carrow Road, and reportedly is on Aston Villa’s shortlist.

Lennon is not surprised. He said: “I am looking forward to seeing Paul. He has done an absolutely brilliant job at Norwich. I am delighted for him and his backroom staff, whom I know very well, and for Adam Drury. Any player now in the modern game who does over ten years at a club is unique, so we are delighted to be part of that night.

Hide Ad

“Paul was a great team-mate and a great player, who knows the game very, very well. He was always a leader, and the Norwich players have responded magnificently to what he has asked them to do, and they have just gone from strength to strength.”

Lennon, 40, added: “Paul has already proved he has got what it takes and it does not surprise me there is a lot of speculation surrounding him. The more successful you are, the more the big clubs will want to take you. I don’t want to prise him away from Norwich, or say words to that effect, but it is the way of the world, it is a natural progression, but I think he is pretty happy there.”

Hide Ad

While Lambert has as yet given no indication on his immediate future, Norwich were last week rocked by the news that captain Grant Holt – player of the season for the last three years – had handed in a transfer request, which was rejected out of hand by the club. It remains to be seen whether the 31-year-old, who scored 15 Premier League goals and had been touted as a possible outsider for the England Euro 2012 squad, will feature tonight, when former Canaries star Darren Huckerby will turn out for the hosts. Holt’s representatives are reported to be in discussions with Norwich in a bid to resolve their differences.