The pace of City summer transfer activity looked set to step up another gear again today as one familiar face prepared to pack his bags for home as another was reported to be performing the same prodigal son routine as Jamie Cureton and coming back to Norfolk.
The Sun this morning suggested that one-time Canary youth product Darel Russell was expected to complete a ?600,000 switch back to Carrow Road after his four-year spell at The Britannia Ground, Stoke.
Russell – in theory, approaching the prime of his footballing life at the age of 26 – was reportedly in the form of his Potters' life last season as he racked up seven goals in 46 appearanaces for Tony Pulis' men.
With City, as ever, reluctant to make any statement before pen is put to paper, today's suggested move 'fits'.
He is, after all, well-known to Grant after the two played together at Carrow Road – there was an element of the grizzled Glasgow wizard and the ambitious young apprentice to their midfield double act as Grant took the young Russell under his wing and taught him a few tricks of their engine room trade.
More tellingly, Grant was dropping big hints in Holland that in the wake of Dickson Etuhu's exit, he was looking to bring extra 'balance' to that midfield area; that he needed to find more goals from that department as his midfield powerhouse answered his agent's call and disappeared off to the Stadium Of Light.
That having already bolted on Julien Brellier and Jimmy Smith to his midfield plans, there was still room at the inn for another body – particularly given the on-going uncertaianty that surrounds Youssef Safri's future at the club.
“Now, perhaps, we have to have a little different thought process in the middle of the pitch to make up for that – because we still need goals from that area of the pitch,” said Grant in Holland last week.
Russell reminded him of that particular trait to his game by drilling home the 90th minute fifth in last autumn's embarrassing 5-0 reverse at the Britannia Ground. Slammed in alongside Salif Diao, Russell looked the real Championship deal that day – strong, purposeful, athletic and a menace, basically. Even if he had Gary Doherty for a midfield opponent.
At 5ft 10in tall, he isn't the tallest – add another four inches to his muscular frame and there is every chance he would have made the Premiership many moons ago.
“We've brought young Jimmy in who looks terrific at doing that and we're still looking at one or two other aspects of it; the small parts that Julien Brellier has taken part in, you can hear the other players talking and they can see the quality he has; Safri's come back and looking excellent; he's looking sharp; Fotheringham's been first class and he's obviously champing at the bit to put his claim down in the central midfield area.”
'But….' was the implication. 'But, I'd still like another one…'
With just one year to run on his current Potters deal, Pulis and the Stoke board will have been well aware that there was a real danger of Russell walking out on a free next summer – hence their arrival at the negotiating table.
Russell, in common with Cureton, still has a strong affection for the club that . nurtured his teenage talents after first arriving in Norfolk via the club's Potters Bar recruitment centre.
Always deemed to be one of the best of that bunch, Russell never quite hit the levels of consistency that successive managers hoped for. That said, so much was expected of a player who was still only 22-years-old when he left Carrow Road.
Grant may also need a short term fix to his midfield department given that both Smith (calf) and Brellier (thigh) approach tomorrow night's home friendly against West Ham United with large question marks attached.
Smith appears the bigger concern of the two having been helped off the pitch against FC Zwolle last week with a hefty whack to the calf – something that could yet limit the 20-year-old's early impact with his new employers.
Russell had his own big friendly date last Friday night as he played the last 35 minutes of Stoke's 2-0 defeat by Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, reports were circulating this morning that Jurgen Colin's four-week trial spell at Dutch giants Ajax was likley to formalise into something more permanent.
In fact, a one-year contract, with the option for two more seasons, is reported to be sat on the table after the 26-year-old right-back impressed coach Henk ten Cate.
“We will round this off in the coming days,” Ajax technical director Martin van Geel told www.fcupdate.nl on Sunday.
“He must pass his medical first and we need to reach a deal with Norwich City.”
Ten Cate coached Colin at NAC Breda, added: “I think he did well. He brings thoroughness and certainty. We are satisfied with him.”