If Adam Drury had to take one lesson from Friday night's final dress rehearsal, it would have little to do with that second goal in an unusually free-scoring summer.
For while Drury's sweeping, second-half strike might have provided the winner against Vitesse Arnhem, for the 28-year-old full-back the night's importance lay further back down the pitch where, after the fun and games of the Hammers' clash three nights earlier, the Canaries managed to look like rather more cohesive as a defensive unit.
Whether the presence of Julien Brellier helped or whether Drury and Co were finally starting to slip into a match groove only next Saturday's opening trip to Deepdale will tell. Either way, the former City skipper sensed an improvement – of training ground bits and pieces coming together.
?I think we're getting more and more organised – that's been a big thing,? said Drury.
?And if we can stop other teams scoring – which we didn't do enough last season – then we'll give ourselves a chance because although he didn't play tonight people like Hucks (Darren Huckerby), David (Strihavka and Curo (Jamie Cureton) are always going to get you goals. Chrissy Martin…
?If we can stop them at one end, then it'll give tham a chance down the other.?
City's clean sheet against the Dutch top flight side also owed to much to the continuing good form of new Norwich No1 David Marshall as he tipped one second-half header brilliantly onto a post and generally looked the part.
The fact that the 22-year-old now has two senior keepers breathing down his neck in the shape of the newly-arrived Matty Gilks and Paul Gallacher points to another big point in Norwich's favour – that squad-wise, they are stronger. There are more experienced bodies for City chief Peter Grant to call on as and when injuries start to mount.
Given that there is still the better part of four weeks before this summer's transfer window finally closes and you still get the distinct impression that the arrivals haven't finished – that one, if not two, fresh faces may be in the building come August 31.
?Is the squad stronger this season? Without a doubt,? said Drury. ?The gaffer's brought in plenty of players over the summer as everyone knows and we've got a lot better squad now.
?No disrespects to the kids, when they came in last year they did a great job but in this league sometimes it's tough.
?You need this kind of squad for the injuries we seem to get every year so you've got the players coming in to replace the ones that aren't playing,? added Grant, with on-loan Chelsea midfielder Jimmy Smith having already succumbed.
If, however, the Canaries can head to Lancashire next weekend with just Smith and – potentially Huckerby – figuring on Neal Reynolds' sick list then by their own, less-than-lofty standards, City will have had a good summer.
From now on in, it is the real thing.
?This where it really matters – this is what it is all about,? said Drury.
?We're picking up points and it's got to count. You can do all the work you want in pre-season, but it's when the season starts that's what it is all about – and we're looking forward to it.?
He won't, of course, be leading City out to battle; that duty has now passed on to Jason Shackell – and all, it seems, with Drury's blessing. There was little, if not no, hint of ill-feeling; of being down and dispossessed.
?I had a word with the gaffer when he took over and I said I've got no problem with stepping down if he wants me to and he said no; he'd leave it to the end of the season.
?At the end of the season we had another chat and we both agreed that Jason would make a good captain. And I said I had no problem with him doing it and it went from there really. We both told Shacks and I think he'll do a great job – he'll grow into the role and I think it'll make him a better player, too.?
The fact that he is centre-stage, too, clearly helps. ?I think it's better for the team – he's in the middle of the pitch; he's a vocal lad; it'll bring him on as a player as well.
?But then everyone out there has got to lead – whether you are at the front, the back, wherever you are on the pitch. Everyone's got to do their own bit and everyone's got to be vocal – and I think that's been a big part of this pre-season getting everyone to talk to eachother; to make eachothers' jobs a bit easier.?
This pre-season has also seen Drury hit the goal trail – kicking off with the one against King's Lynn and now Friday night's 20-yard curler against Vitesse, the one-time Peterborough youngster is in the goal-scoring form of his life.
Suggestions that his shot took a wicked deflection off a Vitesse defender brought a swift rebuke.
?I don't score that many – so you're not taking it off me!? said Drury, whose 260 City appearances have yielded just three goals. Friday's, albeit in a summer friendly, was probably the pick of the bunch, deflected or not.
?It was just one of those that I knew had a great chance of going in as soon as I hit it so I was pleased to see it nestling in the top corner,? he said.
?So I'm on a roll at the minute and I want it to keep going. Jim Duffy's been working on the back four – and especially the full-backs – in terms of getting in more advanced positions, so when the ball drops out of the box we get a chance of having a shot.
?At the minute it's paying off and, hopefully, it will during the course of the season.?
Delivering goals from other areas of the pitch is another one of Grant's big hopes going into 2007-2008.
?Last year we relied massively on Earnie – and Hucks. But when they're not in the team or not scoring then obviously you need other people to score. So it's a big thing that other people join in.
?And if anyone else can get two or three from the back – or the centre-halves get some which they need to start doing – then that would be nice.?
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