City boss Chris Hughton is far too long in the footballing tooth to ever take anything for granted.
But right now his first pre-season in charge of the Canaries is coming along quite nicely.
This weekend’s 2-0 away win at Peterborough made it two wins in two following last week’s 1-0 away win at Celtic Park and with both Steve Morison and James Vaughan (again) on the score-sheet, his principal strikers are already in the goals.
It was, after all, Grant Holt’s 89th minute strike that delivered the win in Glasgow last week.
More importantly, City have had just one pre-season ‘casualty’ – Steven Whittaker’s ankle injury on the Rangers defender’s return to neighbours Celtic being the one concern of note. He missed yesterday’s trip to London Road and the ankle knock will be assessed again over the next couple of days.
It would appear, however, that Tuesday night’s home clash against Dutch giants Ajax will be too soon for the 28-year-old to make his home ‘debut’.
Whittaker’s woes apart, it is the free-scoring form of Vaughan that is coming to the fore this summer.
His latest strike came four minutes from the end of yesterday’s contest as he teamed up with fellow second-half substitute Holt to put the game beyond the reach of Posh.
With the likes of both Robert Snodgrass and Jacob Butterfield yet to be factored into the manager’s thinking, the ‘old guard’ of Holt, Morison and Vaughan are certainly staking an early claim for that Fulham (a) gig.
“I would have thought if you were Peterborough, the last thing you want at that stage of the game is to see a player come on that plays on the shoulder and has a bit of pace about him [Vaughan],” Hughton told the club’s official website afterwards, as the strike pair arrived amongst a clutch of 66th minute substitutions.
And made their mark before the end.
“It was a good combination between the two front players for the second and a good time to score the goal,” added Hughton.
The one, unused sub on the day was keeper John Ruddy as Declan Rudd enjoyed his first, full 90 minutes of the summer – and responded to the opportunity with a number of smart saves.
The expectation would be, however, that Rudd will make way for Ruddy again on Tuesday night against Ajax; whether new-boys Michael Turner and Snodgrass will make their first appearance in a City shirt is the next question.
Likewise, the state of Butterfield’s rehab following the injury sustained in the Yorkshire derby against Leeds on New Year’s Eve whilst playing for his former employers Barnsley will also come to the fore as the big kick-off nears. The England Under-21 international still has four more, pre-season games in which to gain some priceless game-time before August 18; in the meantime, however, Hughton is hardly short of alternatives in that central, attacking midfield role with the likes of Wes Hoolahan and Jonny Howson in contention alongside Snodgrass.
The fact that Norwich are already getting a little, winning rhythm to their game also keeps the pot nicely bubbling along.
Early, early days as ever, but summer is coming along quite nicely right now.
“It’s always good to win any game, whether it be pre-season or not, because you get that winning mentality, and at this moment I think we’ve come through unscathed injury wise which is always important,” confirmed Hughton.