'I love it at Norwich' says Aston Villa contender Paul Lambert

 

Paul Lambert has again stressed he is happy at Norwich, but accepts his "great rapport" with the Canaries fans could be tested if his side do not remain competitive next season.

Lambert, 42, has overseen a remarkable transformation of the Norfolk club, taking them up from the lower reaches of npower League one into the Barclays Premier League, where Norwich finished 12th this season.

However, those achievements on a modest budget meant the former Borussia Dortmund and Celtic midfielder attracted the attentions of Aston Villa, who are looking for a new manager following Alex McLeish's departure.

Lambert has reacted angrily to questions over his own future, but accepts as good as he has it at Carrow Road, the atmosphere could well change should things not go to plan in 2012/2013.

"Never once have I not felt wanted here," Lambert said on Sky Sports News.

"I have got a really great rapport with the fans here as everybody knows and it's a special thing I think with the fans and myself.

"I know how quickly that can turn if you are not getting results, but the three years I've been here.... the rapport I have with the fans is really special and a unique thing to get, and I love it here, I do."

Villa have been closely linked with Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who rejected the chance to take charge of the midlands club 12 months ago, and it remains to be seen whether they will yet make a formal approach to Norwich for the opportunity to speak to Lambert after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer withdrew his interest.

The Scot, though, has plenty of his summer agenda already set out for him, with out-of-contract full-back Adam Drury, who was rewarded for 11 years service with a testimonial against Celtic earlier this week, still to have his future resolved, along with captain Grant Holt, who has had talks with chief executive David McNally after lodging a formal transfer request, which was rejected.

Lambert has long expressed the need for some fresh talent to help a squad which largely is made up of players who came through successive promotions from the third tier.

The Norwich manager admitted he could look to bring in players from Europe in search of some value, but looks set to miss out on reported target Thomas Heurtaux, the French defender now set to join Udinese from Caen.

One Canaries player not set for much of a summer break is goalkeeper John Ruddy, who trained with England for the first time in Manchester today.

The 25-year-old will offer support to Manchester City's Joe Hart and West Ham stopper Rob Green, who started his career at Norwich, at the European Championships.

Ruddy said in the Eastern Daily Press: "It is another step in the right direction for me as a player and it is something I am really looking forward to - not just the opposition, but training and playing with the England team.

"As long as I continue to develop in the same manner I have for the last two seasons, this is a step I want to stay on.

"I want to continue to be involved in England squads. It is up to me to continue to play as I have this season and keep my foot in the door."

PA

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