City boss Peter Grant has – for now – closed the file marked 'Forwards' after Czech striker David Strihavka officially became his sixth new signing of the summer yesterday.
The Canary chief will now head into '07-08 Championship battle with his strike hopes resting on the combined shoulders of this summer's two new-boys, 24-year-old Strihavka and Jamie Cureton, plus Chris Brown, Chris Martin, Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin. And, indeed, Ryan Jarvis.
With the goalkeeping department bursting at the seams following the arrival of Messrs Marshall and Gilks, the manager will take one, last look at his midfield and defensive options before the transfer window finally closes on August 31.
To his credit, the recent frantic spin on the transfer merry-go-round has ensured that he can see how both right-back Jon Otsemobor and midfield enforcer Julien Brellier bed-in to his thinking over the course of City's seven pre-season games – kicking off this Saturday with the long-haul down to Exeter City of the Conference.
All eyes, you suspect, will be on that vacant No5 shirt and whether or not Youssef Safri will be happy to potentially play second fiddle to Brellier in African Cup of Nations year.
?He (Strihavka) was a very important part of it,? said Grant, quizzed yesterday as to whether he viewed the 6ft 2in Czech frontman as the last piece in his summer jigsaw.
?Whether he's the last one, we'll see. We've got up until August 31 – that's the transfer window. And you can still use the loan system.
?So we'll see where the boys are. I still think we're maybe one, two positions that I still feel as if I could still have an extra body in.
?But David was vital and he's probably settled the front part of the field. I'd probably say that will be it. The midfield and defence we will still have a look at and assess that over the next few weeks.?
The two-game trip to Holland – where City face games against AGOW Apeldoorn and FC Zwolle from the Dutch equivalent of the Championship – will provide Grant and his coaching team with an ideal opportunity to see where the last gaps in his armoury might be.
They then have the better part of a fortnight before the start of the new season at Preston North End on August 11 to plug any hole; a further three weeks before the transfer window shuts for good on August 31.
?We'll see how they come through the games,? said Grant, delighted to be getting back to the simple task of coaching football after his frantic summer glued to a phone.
Not that it will wholly calm down – Grant is clearly intent on repeating last season's process of despatching some of his younger guns out on loan. And that will be before the season starts.
?That's something that's on my mind now – I'm not just going to baby-sit them, so to speak. Keeping players just for the sake of keeping them round about us. Filling up numbers.
?They're all part of it at this moment in time, but obviously there comes a time when you've got to make a choice when you see who's going to be the core of your group.
?And there's no doubt in my mind that boys will definitely be going out on loan.?
The two Jarvis boys, Ryan and Rossi, both gained invaluable experience out on the road, while Grant has already stated his wish to see rookie keeper Joe Lewis further his education elsewhere. Andrew Cave-Brown, now back from his Scottish Under-20 World Cup adventures, may be another one to fit the bill.
All will, however, have to complete Norwich's own pre-season fitness schedule before heading off to any lower league finishing school.
?When they do go out then, hopefully, their fitness levels will keep them in good stead,? said Grant.
?That they'll be ready; that when they do go out on loan, they'll have an impact. That's the way that I'm looking at it – that they have an impact.
?As I say, I think I've seen that in Joe last year. When he played at Stockport, I think he grew more in that time than he has done in the last three years.
?And I think that happened with Jarv (Ryan Jarvis); going to Leyton Orient and scoring a few goals.
?When I look at the fixtures for the reserves and who they're going to be playing against – and no disrespect to them – I'm thinking that's going to be X, Y and Z's reserve team and I've got to ask what are people going to get from that?
?That's not the standard that I'm looking to be at – I'm looking to be above that. And the only way that we can do that is look to loan them out. But, obviously, people have also got to be interested in them – but no doubt they will be.?
And you still sense a loan coming the other way – provided there's enough Nicklas Bendtners to go around and they don't all stay in the Premiership; that some are allowed to get their knees dirty in the Championship.
?I think that's a bit out order, to be perfectly honest with you,? said Grant, clearly hoping that the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal spread their youth riches around.
?What other Premiership clubs do is that they have a big group of players to look after all competitions and don't allow their players to come out on loan. So what benefit are they going to get from that? And at the end of the day, then loan people in…
?I can't understand it. So, hopefully, the clubs will go back to seeing the benefit of the loan system. And you saw that with Birmingham last year.
?Arsenal let their players out on loan and then sell them for ?3 million, so there's a definite benefit for Championship clubs.
?We've spoken to a few clubs; Gunny's obviously spoken to a few people and letting them know that we're still looking for players if they're going to let anyone out on loan.
?And if it's someone we think could benefit the group then we'd definitely look to take them – there's no doubt about that.?
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