City boss Bryan Gunn was this morning breathing a sigh of relief after his new vice-skipper Michael Nelson was knocked unconscious for “10 to 15 seconds” in the midst of Norwich's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Victim of a second-half clash of heads, Nelson required five minutes of treatment and a stretcher-borne exit complete with neck brace as the Canaries' unbeaten summer continued at one of their least favourite playing haunts.
On the one hand it was proof, if any more were needed, that the one-time Hartlepool skipper is more than happy to put his head in where it hurts.
On the other hand, of course, it was one mishap that the City chief could have done without ten days ahead of the start of the new season; particularly if Nelson is now subject to a boxing-style ban on the back of a concussion injury.
A mandatory 14 days on the sidelines is all-too often the requirement for head injuries requiring hospital treatment – whether the letter of that law applies to summer friendlies is another matter.
Either way, Gunn's pursuit of Danish centre-half Jens Berthel Askou might gather more urgency after last night's mishap – the only dark cloud to a lot of silver linings after Australian keeper Michael Theoklitos marked his first Canary appearance with a clean sheet and City winger Simon Whaley marked his first start for his new employers with the game's only goal just after the hour mark.
This morning and the news was a lot brighter; that Nelson had been given the all-clear by doctors; that he had travelled home to Norfolk on the team bus; that he may yet be in contention for that season opener against Colchester United a week on Saturday.
Whether or not this Saturday's final dress rehearsal for Norwich's League One bow against Premiership visitors Wigan Athletic will come too soon for the big-hearted 27-year-old is for the club's own medical team to decide following last night's unscheduled trip to a Croydon A&E department.
“With the help of the club doctor, Peter Harvey, we'll just have to keep a close eye on him for the next few days,” Gunn told the club's official site this morning.
“He was badly concussed, but we're delighted that he's been given the all-clear.”
Speaking to reporters immediately after last night's latest summer success, Gunn admitted it was 'just one of those' after the new Canary arrival come off second best in an aerial challenge with Palace's Jose Forte.
You suspect that that will not have been the first – or the last – time that Nelson has taken a whack to the head; as you give, so shall ye receive tends to be part of the central defender's code.
“We've seen it on the video and there was no intent there,” Gunn told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“It was just a physical challenge between two committed players. Unfortunately Michael came off worse on this occasion. I think he was unconscious for ten or 15 seconds and, quite rightly, the medical team worked very quickly and got Michael onto the stretcher.
“We hope that he should be OK; obviously we need to make sure that everything's right before we take him back to Norfolk.”
With positive news on that front duly arriving this morning, the Canary chief can look back on another good run-out for his re-built side – one that included six fresh faces from the shower that descended on The Valley in the final game of last season.
Eight if you include the 'Luton Two' of Michael Spillane and Chrissy Martin – the former looking as if he might be winning his fight for the right-back slot with Jon Otsemobor, whilst Martin is getting the nod alongside new-boy Grant Holt.
His challenge will now be to keep Jamie Cureton and Cody McDonald out of that second striker slot – and, potentially, New Zealand international triallist Kris Bright who was handed a late chance to shine.
Saturday's star of the show against that Manchester United XI – teenage midfield prospect Tom Adeyemi – had to settle for a five minure run-out at the end after Gunn handed his central midfield to the two new-boys, Matt Gill and Owain Tudur Jones.
For now, you suspect that will be his No1 pairing – at least until Stephen Hughes gets up to full match fitness. Adeyemi remains a very interesting trick to have up your sleeve.
Given the challenges that a strong-looking Palace side presented and the manner in which City returned to Norfolk with another summer scalp, Gunn's summer continues to go as well as most would have dared to hope.
Provided that they can come through this weekend's home clash with the Latics unscathed in either mind or body then – in theory – Norwich should head into that Colchester opener in decent fettle; making full use of the fact that the City chief has been able to bed the vast bulk of his 2009-2010 squad down before a ball is ever kicked in anger.
“It was a good, physical encounter and something we expect to come up against on many occasions in League One next season,” said the City chief afterwards.
“We stood up to it and we got the victory away from home – and that's something we take the positives from.”
The fact that Whaley's 62nd minute strike wasn't Norwich's only opportunity of the game also proved heartening as Wes Hoolahan, in particular, enjoyed himself in front of his long-time admirer Neil Warnock.
“Once we got the ball down and passed it, we showed our qualities and the more often we do that, the more often we will win games next season,” said Gunn.