'If he stays fit we've got a top striker' - Norwood vital to Town's promotion push
- Credit: Ross Halls
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert knows how important striker James Norwood is to the Blues’ promotion bid.
The striker’s goal on 15 minutes secured three points at Hull on Tuesday night – the first time the 30-year-old has scored in an Ipswich win since the 4-1 success over Accrington in January 2020.
His all-round game, both physical and intelligent, helped inspire the Blues to a statement win but he received treatment on multiple occasions during the second period having dealt with hamstring trouble for much of the last year.
The challenge now is to keep him fit and firing during a hectic schedule between now and the end of the campaign.
“James has missed a big chunk of the season with injury, backwards and forwards, and we’ve missed him, I’ve always said that,” Lambert said.
“But his goal was a really top goal, his general game was very, very good and he and Troy Parrott linked up very well.
“He’s been out for a long time. We lost him and then he came back in and then we lost him again for a long period of time.
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“If James can stay fit and keep doing what he’s doing, then we’ve got a really good number nine. It’s just keeping him fit.
“His goal was excellent and I’m pleased for him because he’s had a hard time with injuries.”
Matt Gill was asked earlier in the week whether the Blues could still pack the same punch without Norwood, with the Town coach insisting there are others who can come into the side if needed.
“Nors is the same as a lot of the lads in that having the competition for places only makes us stronger,” he said.
“Aaron (Drinan) came on at the weekend and we’re asking our front players to put in a hell of a shift, with strikers working hard in and out of possession.
“Nors is desperate to play 90 minutes and he’s quite capable of doing that but we have to be careful with the way we’re managing certain players at the moment."
Norwood was paired with Tottenham loanee Troy Parrott in attack at the KCOM Stadium, with the latter deployed in a slightly deeper role which allowed the teenager to get on the ball and try to create.
But it was his work rate which caught the eye, as much as his quality on the ball.
Lambert said: “That’s part of the game, tracking back.
“I’ll keep my own thoughts on Parrott, I know exactly what he brings, I know exactly what type of lad he is and what player he is. I’ll keep my own thoughts on him because I’ve got my own idea where I think he’ll end up playing.”
The pair could line-up together again when Doncaster Rovers visit on Saturday.