City's club liason officer Bryan Gunn today pulled a big one out of the bag for the gaffer as Chelsea teenager Jimmy Smith arrived on loan at Colney.
Canary boss Peter Grant was dropping big hints at The Walks last night that he had a Premiership loan signing up his sleeve – one that was designed to paper over the cracks that Dickson Etuhu's sudden exit prompted.
True to his word, so this morning the club duly announced the arrival of the 20-year-old Londoner on a deal until the end of December – an attacking midfielder who not only captained Chelsea's Reserves last season but also earned his first England Under-19 call-up alongside City striker Chris Martin.
“I was sat in the stands at QPR when he scored that goal against us when I arrived at Norwich,” Grant told the official website.
“But I had seen him play prior to that as I had seen a lot of games when I was at West Ham. He was a young kid at Chelsea coming through the reserve team and each time I saw him he seemed to have developed as a player.
“He likes to push up into the opposition box and it gives us a different mix. He got six goals in about 20 games for QPR last season and for someone to come from reserve team football into the Championship he's done very well.
“We are very pleased to have got him because there were two other Championship clubs that wanted him and we are pleased he has chosen us.”
How he arrived in Norfolk with such a fine sense of timing is probably a question for Gunn to answer – somewhere behind the scenes you suspect his long-standing friendship with Chelsea No2 Steve Clarke may have borne fruit and put a big smile back on Grant's face after the trials and tribulations of Etuhu's exit.
The two were once Scottish Youth international room-mates together and – in classic Gunn fashion – his mobile phone number has never left his contacts book.
Smith will certainly be well-versed in the ways of the Championship having spent the back half of last season on loan at Chelsea's West London neighbours QPR where he bagged six goals from his 29 appearances – including one in the 3-3 draw with the Canaries as the in-coming Grant sat in the stands and watched his new charges for the first time.
The 6ft prospect made a big impression at Loftus Road with Rs' boss John Gregory eventually persuading the neighbours to let him keep their young tyro for the remainder of the season.
Given that, at that stage, he had made 13 appearances scoring five goals in the process, Gregory's delight at his extended loan capture was swiftly evident.
“It's a great boost for the club,” Gregory, told the QPR official site in December.
“It's a great boost for the club. He's been a true professional since the moment that he arrived here and his impact has been immense.
“It will lift everyone and who knows what might happen in the future.”
Given events of the last week and Gregory's words are equally applicable to the Canaries, if Smith now comes in and adds the kind of attacking menace that Etuhu offered – all with Julien Brellier mopping up behind.
At 6ft, he's a good size – not the kind of little dazzler like a Jody Morris or a Joe Cole. Players that in the thick of an old-fashioned, ugly Championship slog can get over-powered by the nightclub doorman look-a-likes you can find inhabiting the Football League's lower reaches.
Smith's immediate prospects of regular first team football at the Bridge have not exactly been helped by this summer's arrival on a free transfer of Reading workhorse Steve Sidwell.
Not that Jose Mourinho is exactly short of midfield options – Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Claude Makelele and John Obi Mikel all spring to mind.
That said this initial loan spell is not of the David Bentley year variety – suggesting that Mourinho and Clarke want to give themselves the option of seeing how their home-grown star develops by the New Year, by when they might like to see him graduate from his Norfolk 'finishing school' and start to make more of his presence felt on the fringes of the first team.
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