Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert today urged Norwich City to end their “obsession” with him as he tried to play down his return to Carrow Road tomorrow night.
The claret and blues will travel to East Anglia for a Capital One Cup quarter-final tie against Norwich but all the focus is likely to be on Lambert following his acrimonious exit from the Canaries last summer.
Lambert and Norwich are still involved in a legal dispute over his departure, with both parties having claimed breach of contract and the case will be heard at a tribunal next month.
The Scot was largely ignored by Norwich supporters when they drew 1-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League at the end of October, but a tense atmosphere is expected tomorrow evening.
“I hope they concentrate on (current Norwich boss) Chris (Hughton) because, if not, the obsession keeps on continuing with myself. It’s his club, it’s his team now,” said Lambert.
“People will make more of it than I actually will. I’ll just get on with it.
“It’s another game for me. You would like to think that the sensible ones would maybe think ‘you done all right’.
“But I know I might get stick. With the things that are going on people probably don’t know exactly what has happened.”
Meanwhile, Darren Bent was today backed by his team-mates to help improve Villa’s goal tally after he made a return to first-team action. The £24m striker did not feature in a single game for six weeks after he was axed by Lambert and it inevitably prompted rumours about his future at the club.
However, the England international came off the bench and played 24 minutes of the goalless draw with Stoke City at the weekend.
“He’s a deadly finisher and you know he will score goals. That’s what the fans want to see, they want to see people scoring goals,” said Ciaran Clark.
“I’m sure if Darren had half a chance he would have stuck it in the net. It was just one of those days where he didn’t get a chance.”