If City boss Peter Grant hoped that the start of the new Championship season might have brought him a change of luck on the injury front, then that fond hope was cruelly dashed again this afternoon when it emerged that midfielder Mark Fotheringham would be out “for a period of time” with damaged ankle ligaments.
Reports of the 23-year-old's cruel blow first surfaced north of the border this morning with Scotland's Daily Record suggesting that the one-time Celtic starlet would be out until December with snapped ankle ligaments.
The fact that Fotheringham walked away unaided – albeit with a hobble – from Saturday's Championship clash with Southampton would tend to cast doubt on that report. Snapped ankle ligaments you know about.
However, it is clear that the Canary midfielder could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines this autumn.
And with Grant having already lost the services of on-loan Chelsea 20-year-old Jimmy Smith with a similar injury and seen Julien Brellier look well short of match sharpness in that same Saints game – hence Fotheringham's ride to the rescue after the break – it is abundantly clear where the manager's injury woes lie ahead of Saturday's trip to Hull City.
Slap bang in the middle of his team with Lady Luck once again ensuring that, bit like the buses, all Neal Reynolds' charges come in the same position – and at the same time.
“He's going to be out for a period of time,” said Grant this afternoon, as he confirmed parts of the Record's story on the club's official site. A scan has revealed ligament 'damage'; no mention of a snap.
“It's a blow for the player who has worked extremely hard,” added the City chief. “He's done exceptionally well and worked his socks off in pre-season and come back ready to play.
“His form in the pre-season friendlies meant he deserved to be in my starting line-ups, but I decided to try a different system because of the circumstances.
“But he came on on Saturday and helped swing the game for us and it's a real blow to lose him.”
Smith – back under-going intensive rehab in London – remains a good three or four weeks away from a return to Norfolk; even then he will be way short of match fitness and sharpness.
All of which will turn the spotlight firmly on Brellier who, Grant admitted at the weekend, “lacked legs” right now after the Frenchman's own injury-hit pre-season.
Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press after Saturday's game, Fotheringham was clearly optimistic himself that the ankle posed little long-term problem.
“When it fell with their guy Surman, my foot just got left in the tackle and turned over,” he told the paper.
“It feels much better now, it was just at the start when I put my foot down I felt the nerves shoot up my shin and I just wasn't willing to take a risk with it, especially this early in the season.”
All of which was the last thing the City midfielder needed after doing much to drag the Canaries back into the contest.
It was, after all, he neat lay-off to Jamie Cureton that enabled the Canary striker to smash that indirect free-kick into the roof of the Southampton net; it was, after all, Fotheringham's ability to switch the ball wide and early that enabled Lee Croft to find the kind of space to deliver the cross for Cureton's match-winning second.
“It was frustrating, it just felt as if we were getting into the game at that point and grabbing a bit of control and I thought, 'Oh no, I have not got to go off have I?' Fotheringham told the EDP.
“Especially coming on as a sub as well. There is nothing worse than coming on and having to go off, but it is just one of these things and I just couldn't play on.”
In fairness to Grant's summer rebuilding plans, he still has one or two options left up his sleeve.
With a further full week's training under his belt, 'The Judge' could yet start again alongside Darel Russell.
Alternatively, Grant could go with the team that finished Saturday's contest with Luke Chadwick filling that troubled central role.
Chadwick enjoyed a decent summer and, like Fotheringham, his natural instinct is to play far higher up the pitch than is Brellier's wont. Certainly Norwich didn't falter when he arrived for the game's last ten minutes – for once, the Carrow Road side comfortably saw out the game to claim those three big, early points.
A third option presented itself last night in the course of the Reserves' 4-0 demolition of the Luton Town second string in City's opening Pontins Holiday Combination fixture of the new season.
For by all accounts, teenager Chris Martin stole the show – and all playing in that little, more withdrawn role behind the front two.
Whether that is tailor-made to dig out a point at the KC Stadium this weekend is another matter; a Brellier-Russell combination probably has a more secure feel to it.
That said, Martin has never been shy of a tackle and has the physique – not to mention the attitude – to fill that more forward role. While all the time, of course, adding an extra goal threat with his natural striker's eye.
One door closes, another one opens…
That all said, you have to feel for Fotheringham. Professionally this is a very, very big year for him having prised just another year out of Grant following his free-agent arrival from the Swiss club Aarau last January.
All of which would demand that he got off to a flier this season. Smith returned to sender injured; Youssef Safri off to Southampton; Brellier taking time to find his match legs – the door was wide open for Fotheringham to book a starting place for himself.
And then Fate, not for the first time, intervenes.