City boss Peter Grant this morning conceded that the current transfer stalemate could continue for another two weeks – that it will take the start of pre-season training to finally force people to show their hands.
“I think it could be another two weeks before it settles down – I really do,” said the Canary manager, who summed up his current mood in one, familiar word.
And not unreasonably so. For the Canaries were at the table early this summer – and with some serious chips to play with, too, as they made that reported ?2 million bid for Crewe's Luke Varney.
Cue Charlton pushing a whole pile of chips into the middle of the table – with that money-spinning, four-year deal proving the trump card as far as both player and agent were concerned.
Time to play a new hand – this time for Scunthorpe United hot-shot Billy Sharp. Joining Norwich at the table were Sheffield Wednesday; they folded early. Wolves have long been in play – hoping the ace up their sleeve is Sharp's long-standing friendship with Andy Keogh.
Overnight reports suggested that Watford, too, might now be at the table having cashed their Ashley Young chips in last January.
Grant, of course, has two more hands in play striker-wise – one for Southend United's Freddy Eastwood; the other for Canary old-boy Jamie Cureton. Wolves are certainly at the table for the former; Hull City at the latter. Three tables, three hands – and everyone desperately trying to catch a glimpse of eachother's cards.
Cue the player's agent – he simply goes round and tells all concerned who's about to bid what. And all the time calculating his ten per cent share.
“Clubs just want to hold and hold on,” said Grant, as Scunthorpe cling on to that ?2 million price tag for Sharp, Southend demand ?1.5 million plus for Eastwood and Colchester hope for ?700,000 odd for Cureton.
“And I can understand that. But most people will be back working again come the first week in July and I know that if I were a player, I'd want to be at the club that I was joining for the first day of pre-season – that I'd be wanting to go on their pre-season tour ten days or whenever later,” said Grant, hoping that a spot of player-power will force people to play their hands.
Once one goes, so the next one might swiftly fllow.
“It's a case of lining all your ducks up,” said Grant. “And then thinking: 'Right – that one's fell; that one's fell; but I've still got that one up there….'”
The suspicion remains that with Varney having fallen, Sharp is his next target. Cureton's goal-scoring feats in the Championship outshone Eastwood's last season; he'd also offer the distinct advantage of leaving City with ?1 million plus in change compared to any likely deals for either Sharp or Eastwood. Nor would his motivation be a problem on a return to Norfolk.
Eastwood appeared today to be edging closer to a move to Molineux and a re-union with his one-time Southend youth pal Michael Kightly who ended speculation about his own future by agreeing a new, four-deal with Wolves.
“They are a really big club and it would be nice to team up with former Southend team-mate Michael Kightly again,” Eastwood told the Southend Echo, as he made his big, 'I'm off…!' speech to the Shrimpers' local paper.
Or rather if he isn't allowed away this summer, then he'll walk away for nothing on a Bosman next year.
“I want to move on,” Eastwood told the Echo.
“I've had three really good years, but having had a taste of the Championship it's where I want to stay.
“I'm an ambitious person and my dream is to play in the Premiership. League One is a long way from there and that's why I want go. It's got nothing to do with the money, I just want to play at the highest level possible.”
Sources at Molineux were insisting at the end of last week that Eastwood would be their's come the end of this week and Eastwood was doing little to deny that.
“I know Wolves have had a bid for me turned down but I would be interested in going there. I think they will go up next season so it would be a good move for me,” he said.
“All this kind of thing is out of my hands though really. It depends on what the clubs do, but I think Wolves will come back in with a better offer.
“I've spoken to (chairman) Ron Martin about how I feel and at the moment I would not sign any new contract offer that Southend put to me.”
Interestingly, Wolves are also sat at another table as they bid for Burnley striker Kyle Lafferty. According to the Express & Star, manager Mick McCarthy is not looking to bag all three – two out of three would suffice.
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey told the paper: “We have options, we have contingencies and alternatives. But Mick has said from the outset 'Let's keep as many plates spinning as we can.'”
The alternative, said Moxey, is to throw money at the problem. For that, read Charlton and Varney.
“In this game, you can get transfers done quickly by asking a club to think of a number, doubling it and giving them the money. But that is obviously not good business,” said Moxey.
In the meantime, back in Norfolk Grant too was keeping his plates spinning – he still has one on the go in Glasgow in the shape of his No1 keeper target David Marshall.
“The phone was still ringing at 20 to 11 last night and I probably took my first call at quarter past seven this morning, so I'm never really off it,” said Grant.
And, hopefully, one of these days, someone might even say: 'Yes!'….