Lambert admits Town ‘will have the pressure lifted’ by playing away from Portman Road

Paul Lambert's Blues have got 15 games left to fight for promotion. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Paul Lambert's Blues have got 15 games left to fight for promotion. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Paul Lambert has admitted his side may benefit from playing away from home this weekend.

Town take on Sunderland in search of an elusive victory over a promotion-contender and will be looking to respond following defeats to top six sides Rotherham and Peterborough United.

The Blues go to the Stadium of Light top of the League One away table but sitting a lowly 17th in the home version, with Lambert suggesting his side have often struggled to cope with the pressure of expectation which sits on their shoulders at Portman Road.

"It's the expectance level of 20,000 people expecting you to turn up and win - football doesn't work like that," Lambert said.

"Because you're at home doesn't guarantee anything. It can be a hindrance if you're not used to it and can't see it through, so the guys have to get used to that.

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"There are two ways of looking at it. Do you want to play in front of 10 or 11 thousand people or do you want to play in front of 22,000 people. It's the making of a footballer and what you want your mindset to be.

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"Do you want to be under pressure or do you want to play football for a hobby. That's not the game, it's a job.

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"They will feel a lift from the pressure being away from home but it's how you deal with it. Sunderland have the same problem.

"We have to because the fans have been brilliant, no matter what you say. They come in their thousands to watch it and as a footballer you have to take that on board and handle that.

"It's the first time they've had that expectancy level on them."

On Sunderland, who go into the game in seventh place having recovered from a slow start to the season, Lambert said."It's a huge club and they've been in the league now for a couple of seasons.

"It's a brilliant stadium and a brilliant place to play.

"They've had the play-offs last season, lost a manager and then Phil (Parkinson) has come in so it's been topsy-turvy in recent times but they've had a good run lately so it will be a hard game.

"The expectancy level is the same as here - people think you have a divine right to get back up. You don't, but everybody's in a good place in the league and nobody's running away from it with a long way to go.

"You know you are going to play a lot of games with the cup as well so it's over a course of eight or nine months. You need luck, without a doubt, but we're in the same predicament.

"We'll go to try and win every game and there's still 15 left. We still can't see the finishing line."

The Blues sit fourth, five points behind leaders Rotherham but with a pack of teams lurking behind them with multiple games in hand. But Lambert is only looking up.

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"You always look to the top," he said. "Never have I looked over my shoulder like that and I never well. That's the way I was brought up and you always want to try and win it.

"It's easier to be the hunter than to be the hunted that's for sure.

"It needs a consistent run from anybody to win it and there's a long way to go with 15 games. The finishing line isn't in sight yet that's for sure.

"The guys knew how I felt after the Peterborough game and sometimes silence is the most powerful thing. Sometimes you need to go with a bit of aggression. You also need to look at the bigger picture with what they've done for us since they've come in this season because they've been great.

"Relegation can really hurt you but we've been around the top six all season which is testament to ourselves."

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