City boss Peter Grant was in the all-too rare position of having no new injury concerns ahead of tomorrow's Championship trip to Charlton Athletic.
Nine times out of ten and Saturday's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace would have produced this fresh knock, that aggravated niggle. For once, however, the Canaries appear to have emerged with a clean bill of health.
Whether he sticks with a winning formula or whether he tweaks, twiddles and finds a space for the recovering Jason Shackell is something he will decide over the next 24 hours as Norwich begin a big and demanding week on the road.
“You've got your usual bumps that you get in games,” reported the Canary chief at this morning's pre-match Press conference at Colney.
“A few kicks and knocks, but nothing that's going to take anybody out of the game, so everybody will be available to play from the weekend which is very unlike us. That's why I'm not getting too carried away because we've still got a couple of training sessions to go.”
Time enough for Shackell to prove he's ready for a return – if selected. Keeping a clean sheet is also not like Norwich and there must be a big argument for if it ain't bust, don't fix it…
“Jason took part with us on Friday which was the first time he'd been on the training pitch with us; he stayed off it a little bit on Saturday; trained with us yesterday and had no adverse reaction so far, so he seems to be fine and we'll just see how he is,” said Grant, the fact that Shackell has been sidelined for three, full weeks with that ankle ligament knock being his principal concern. Match sharpness, in other words.
“We've got to be careful on that one – it's three weeks. But he'll be available. He's not come in for treatment this morning so I'm surmising that everything is fine.”
Shackell's return apart, Grant also has to decide whether David Strihavka's opening goal in English football has done enough to warrant him a place in his starting plans ahead of the luckless Chris Brown; likewise does Simon Lappin's switch inside to a central midfield role continue?
“I think there's a few things that you'd maybe look at,” admitted Grant, well aware that given the demanding schedule that now awaits he might have to make full use of the expanded squad at his disposal.
“I think you've always got to look at the squad that we have and if you can utilise it. As I've said, I think we've got a better balance when everybody's fit – but it's keeping them all fit,” he added, pointing out that Strihavka for Brown was not a simple, like-for-like replacement.
“I don't think David and Chris are similar. Though they're both big lads, they offer you something different and Chris has done exceptionally well for us.
“David got his chance – he's been chomping at the bit, really – but he's had this throat infection when he could have been playing; all Chris needs to add to his performances is a goal,” said Grant, as he weighed up the pro's and cons of making a switch. Hard work and effort – and putting his nose in where it hurts – was still doing Brown many favours. It was that barren run goals-wise, now stretching away to 14 games, that was the big chink in his armour.
“I think if you ask the players that play alongside him, they'll say that he always gives them something. He puts people under pressure; he creates chances for Jamie (Cureton) in the respect of taking a lot of the work-load off him; he battles; he's had two broken noses so far this season and that's part of his job.
“And I think if you look at his record I think everybody he's played with has scored a lot of goals.”
The trick is to give Brown the confidence to develop more of an Earnshaw-type streak to his game – putting himself first, not others. Whether that would be best served by whipping him out for Strihavka is one of those big management decisions that Grant gets paid to make. Life can sometimes be simpler when you only have 11 fit players to select from – that way the likes of Chris Martin and Michael Spillane manage to find their way onto the bench.
If Brown had converted that big, second-half chance moments before Strihavka's arrival, the argument might have been clearer cut.
“I think that's probably why he snatched at the last one on Saturday because we've been telling him to be more ruthless himself instead of creating chances for everybody else. Sometimes he's got to have that ruthlessness in the box himself,” said Grant, clearly tempted to still give Brown the benefit of the doubt.
“Strikers are always judged on their goals, but I think if people look at their all-round play sometimes that can be as important.”
With no immediate sign of a loan arrival, Grant did admit that Danny Mills' name has crossed his thoughts. Having played alongside the England international in his own playing spell at Carrow Road, he watched with distinct interest as the one-time England World Cup star returned to The Valley on loan and will, no doubt, be snapping at Darren Huckerby's heels come eight o'clock tomorrow night.
“I think he's a terrific signing for them,” said Grant, witness to then boss Mike Walker bundling the Norwich-born youngster out of the door for what he viewed as “a pittance”.
“When I was here, I know people used to give him a bit of stick. But I think that happens sometimes when you come through the ranks, but I thought he'd done very well when he was here and I thought he was let go very cheaply – even then.
“He could play different positions; he was equally good with either foot; he was a young man and I know he had a different personality to that that people sometimes liked, but I had no qualms with him.”
Once again, however, Mills' Premiership wage deal at Manchester City and the fact that Grant had already brought two old-boys home in Cureton and Darel Russell all weighed against a summer move.
“Financially it was always going to be very difficult – you're not even talking about 20 grand a week. I'm sure Danny would have been a big asset for us, but at the time we were bringing Darel and Curo back as well and I didn't want to keep going back down that road. And there were a few other issues at the time that I felt had to be addressed and, obviously, Charlton moved quickly and got him.
“But it definitely wasn't down to his ability that I didn't want him here – just circumstances.”