Lambert eager to push on

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert is not content with his side just squatting in lower mid-table. He wants more than that.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert is not content with his side just squatting in lower mid-table. He wants more than that.

The U's boss is not expecting his team to emulate his own exploits as a player - by winning the Champions League - but he is looking for progress during the second half of the season.

The ambitious Scotsman wants his team to be pushing up the league, after dragging them out of the relegation zone, starting with a big performance at promotion candidates Leeds United this afternoon.


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“I have not come here promising to win the Champions League for you.” insisted Lambert wryly. He won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund as a player in 1997.

“But I don't want to be sitting in mid-table. I knew it would be hard when I first came here. It's certainly been enjoyable, and you can't expect to win every single game.

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“When I first came here, we were in the bottom three, and now we are up to 16th in the table. That's a big, big turnaround.

“We had not won at home before I arrived, but we have now done that! And we had not won back-to-back games, which we have now done, basically with the same set of lads.

“You just hope to get your own players in, because I don't want to be just sitting in mid-table. I want to make a big push for it.

“Some players will leave the football club, and others will come in. Some of that might happen in January, and some of it later.

“I have an idea of who I want to bring in, and who should go out of the club. I have a rough idea of what I want. Every player is always playing for his future, at any club, so this is no different.

“The main priority has been to get the first team out of the mire, which we have done to a certain extent,” added Lambert.

Two wins on the bounce, against Yeovil and away at Northampton, had lifted the U's out of the relegation picture going into last weekend's home match against lowly Hereford.

But all that momentum was lost by another home flop. Hereford secured their first away win of the season (2-1) to halt the U's march up the table, and now they face a huge test at Leeds.

“There was no point in us mulling over last Saturday's defeat for three or four days. You don't want to get too negative, or be too down,” continued Lambert.

“Two wins can put us in the top half of the table, and this weekend is a brilliant game for us to play in.

“I saw the Leeds play Bradford in a cup tie from earlier in the season, and there was a terrific atmosphere. It's a massive football club with a big tradition.

“They've been having a little bit of a hard time, but it will still be a big, big test for us.

“You have no divine right to pick up results, just because of who you are. On the outside, Leeds might seem to have some big resources, but inside you don't really know the exact state of affairs of the football club.

“I know Gary (McAllister) very well. I played with him in the national team (Scotland) for a few years. He's a top man, and was a top footballer.

“Leeds got to the play-offs last season, and Gary's doing a fine job there. They still have some decent players,” added Lambert.

The U's will again be without club record signing Steven Gillespie (hamstring) and left-back Matt Lockwood (tendonitis in knee).

Gillespie has at least returned to training, although the ex-Cheltenham front-runner needs at least one or two outings for the reserves before he can contemplate a return to the first team.

Centre-half Matt Heath, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, has also trained this week, although he is unlikely to figure against his old club today. Heath made 59 senior appearances for Leeds before his switch to the U's over the summer.

Squads

LEEDS UNITED: Lucas, Richardson, Telfer, Marques, Sheehan, Snodgrass, Douglas, Prutton, Delph, Becchio, Showunmi, Christie, Howson, Kilkenny, Michalik, Parker, Hughes, Ankergren.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Baldwin, Coyne, Reid, Tierney, Yeates, Hammond, Izzet, Jackson, Platt, Easter, Maybury, Perkins, Vernon, Wordsworth, White, Wasiu, Gerken.

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