Hartlepool youth coach Paul Stephenson this morning emerged as Glenn Roeder's 'third man' and, according to reports in the North-East, is expected to be appointed Norwich's new first-team coach in “the next 48 hours”.
Confirmation that the 39-year-old former Newcastle United winger will complete a black-and-white back-room team at Colney came from Roeder himself who was quoted in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle as saying: “We will have two Geordies in Lee Clark and Paul Stephenson and an adopted Geordie in myself, and we will take Norwich City clear of relegation trouble.”
Interestingly, the Chronicle also took the oportunity to confirm that Roeder's original choice for first-team coach – assistant Newcastle United Academy boss Adam Sadler – had now indeed been promoted to reserve team boss at St James'.
The 28-year-old has been promoted to Clark's old job – hence Roeder's need to turn elsewhere for the final piece in his coaching jigsaw.
It will not be the first time that Roeder has turned to Stephenson in his hour of need.
Roll the clock back 14 years and Gillingham were staring down the barrel of a relegation gun – only in the Gills case, the exit door led out of the league altogether and into the Vauxhall Conference.
Roeder, in his first managerial role, turned to one of his former young charges at Newcastle where Wallsend-born Stephenson had risen through the youth ranks alongside Paul Gascoigne – the two had earned England youth honours together; Stephenson being the tricky right winger, Gazza being, well, Gazza.
Having made his Magpies' debut at the age of 17 – and gone on to make 67 appearances for a Newcastle side skippered by Roeder – by the time Roeder came a-calling again, Stephenson was twiddling is thumbs up the A2 at Millwall where he had played alongside Teddy Sheringham and Tony Cascarino.
A loan spell to the Gills was duly arranged and on the back of 12 league starts and two goals, Stephenson helped Roeder drag the Kent side to safety. They would finish the season in 91st – four points clear of Halifax Town who duly disappeared into the Conference.
Speaking last week, Roeder insisted that there had always been little between Stephenson and Sadler; how, ideally, he would have liked both men to have joined him in Norfolk.
“There was two in line – one is staying at his club,” Roeder revealed last week, with the Canaries now undertsood to be negotiating the finer points of Stephenson's exit with Pool boss Danny Wilson.
“Since we've shown interest, we've got him a promotion at his club,” added Roeder, with Sam Allardyce's promotion of Sadler confirming that fact this week.
“But there was another one that I wanted equally as much – and if I could have two of them, I'd have had the both of them,” added Roeder, as he started to sketch out a few of the reasons why he was targetting the then unnamed Stephenson.
“It'll be a big promotion for him to come here; a young coach; he's been very successful where he's been; he's produced a lot of players for the first team at the club that he's been at now for five or six years and he's now ready to step up to senior level.
“And he knew that he was coming to Newcastle with me had I stayed,” said Roeder, about to be finally reunited with the one-time St James' Park starlet.
“I've always wanted this person as a coach to work with me; again, a family man; already saying that he'll be happy to move down and throw himself into it and the three of us on the football side will be a good management team.”
Coming from such a strong youth production background, Stephenson would appear to be an ideal 'bridge' between Ricky Martin's Academy set-up and Roeder's reserve teams. And certainly people in Kent remember 'Stevo' very fondly for his role in dragging the Gills away from the brink.
And with over 500 league appearances to his name, he should know the bottom two tiers of English football inside out.
He might, of course, not be the only North-East face that Roeder will be looking to recruit ahead of that home clash with Coventry City in ten days time.
The new City chief has already been widely linked to a loan move for 21-year-old Newcastle United midfielder Matty Pattison, who has yet to feature under 'Big Sam' this season and will be one of Clark's former reserve team charges.
In the complex set of rules that govern the number of loan arrivals at any one club, only one rule really matters – the one that states that a maximum of five loan players may be named in any 16-strong team-sheet.
City already have two on the books – Martin 'Tiny' Taylor and Chelsea youngster Jimmy Smith.
Tempted as Roeder might be to bring them in by the bus-load on the back of this weekend's efforts at Home Park, the reality is that if Taylor and Smith hang around in his first-choice 16, the City chief realistically only has space for another three – four if he wants to cover for injuries and loss of form.
Otherwise, it is help yourself time – particularly on the 'emergency loan' front where there is no restriction whatsoever on the number of players that you can bring to a club, be it either for the minimum 28-day period or the maximum 93-day.
Given Norwich's situation at the very foot of the Championship table, it would be fair to suggest that the debate over whether any loan constitutes an 'emergency' these days has long since ended.