Jason Shackell will walk straight back into Peter Grant's plans for this weekend's trip to Wolves after the Canaries this morning lost their appeal against Dion Dublin's red card.
The 38-year-old centre-half will, indeed, now miss City's next three games – the away trip to Molineux this Saturday, next Tuesday night's Carling Cup third round trip to Manchester City and next Saturday's live Sky clash with bottom of the table Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road.
The only, tiny silver lining was the fact that the FA didn't slap a fourth game on top – something they did to Derby's Craig Fagan for what they saw as a 'frivolous' appeal.
Quite what Grant's reaction to today's ruling by the regulatory commission will be is another matter after they, presumeably, agreed with the referee's assessment that Dublin 'intended' to head-butt Danny Mills in the dying moments of Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at The Valley.
Speaking at Colney ahead of the verdict this morning, the Canary chief made his feelings very plain.
“If Dion ends up getting suspended, they've got it wrong,” said Grant. “They've got it wrong – they've made the wrong choice. And I will say that now.
“If they don't quash it then they have got it wrong. And it becomes a joke – the system.”
Whether or not the system is a joke, the Canaries now have to plan for life without Dion for the next nine days. And with Grant admitting he already had two players doubtful for the trip to Wolves on Saturday, he has his hands full. Again.
Shackell's swift return to fitness is, at least, some consolation. Had his ankle ligament knock lingered, the Canary boss would have been left with either throwing in Ian Murray alongside Gary Doherty – and the ex-Rangers man didn't travel to the Valley on Tuesday night due to an infection – or else handing young Michael Spillane his big chance.
There was precious little clue this morning that the loan market was about to yield any fruit – quite the reverse after Grant watched Sheffield United yesterday snap up 21-year-old Villa centre-half Gary O'Neill on loan for three months.
All of which ensures that all eyes are now on Shackell's return alongside Doherty – or rather, all eyes will be on that recently recovered ankle. Another knock and some big, fat chickens really would start to come home to roost as the loan market continues to frustrate all Grant's best intentions.
What may also be fuelling the manager's fury is the knowledge that not only is this morning's decision hitting Norwich's season hard, it is also hitting him hard individually as a manager.
There is a very, very fine line between getting City's season up and running among the early play-off contenders and finding youself in the bottom six and scrabbling around for any sort of result.
It doesn't take too much of a media genius to work out how Sky will be billing that home clash with Wednesday a week on Saturday if Norwich come a-cropper at Wolves this weekend and find themselves in the bottom three or four going into that late kick-off game. In the meantime, the spotlight falls squarely back on Grant's summer choice for skipper. Time for him to earn some big spurs.
“I feel good,” confirmed Shackell, again speaking at Colney this morning before news of his immediate return to duty filtered through.
“The ankle is holding up really well and I'm really happy at the time-frame that I've got back in in,” added the Canary skipper, as the armband passes back to him.
Initial fears that team-mate Julien Brellier might have 'done a Jimmy Smith' on Shackell proved unfounded – just as well given events of the last 36 hours. Were it to have proved six weeks and not three, the Canaries would have been in an almighty muddle.
Shackell has, though, got less than five minutes of game-time under his belt since that Carling Cup trip to Spotland after arriving with Jamie Cureton as a 90th minute substitute at The Valley – just in time to see Dublin disappear.
“It was nice to be back involved even for a very short period,” said Shackell, who like Grant had his own opinions on both the 38-year-old's exit and Danny Mills' part in it.
“Without being too controversial, I thought it was a poor decision. We've watched the replays over and over again ourselves in the changing room and we think it's a bit of a joke, to be honest.
“I don't think he did anything wrong – he's not that kind of guy anyway. And I think our ex-player Danny Mills made the most of it. But, hopefully, it'll get over-turned and that's that basically.”
Of course, it didn't – and Shackell was the first to admit the likely impact. At ten o'clock this morning, he was talking in theory. Come two o'clock and this is now the reality.
“It'd be a massive loss,” he admitted. “On the pitch he's been playing magnificently – the last couple of games, some of the blocks he's made have been different class, to be honest.
“And off the pitch as well. He's got massive experience; he helps out all the lads; he's just a good person to have playing – and around the place in general.”
In fairness to Shackell, returning to the side in the way that he is about to was probably not what he would have wanted.
He was clearly expecting Dublin's red card to be over-turned nor, to his credit, was there any expectation on his part that he was about to walk straight into the team again.
“I'm just going to wait and see what happens,” he said, a wait that lasted little more than three hours.
“Obviously I want to play but if Dion and Doc (Gary Doherty) are doing really well then I've got nothing I can say really. I've just got to sort of sit and bide my time and wait for an opportunity to get back in the team.
“And then, hopefully, I can keep somebody else out. But they're doing well – hopefully we can get a few more results and long may it continue.”