City favourite Darren Huckerby wasn't expecting anyone to roll out the red carpet on his return to first team duty tonight – no special favours, no automatic shoe-ins.
He was just one of the boys; part of a team. He'd take his chance on earning his starting role back – just like everyone else as Norwich packed their bags for the seaside and a night out in Blackpool.
“Am I expecting to walk straight back into the team? No – definitely not,” said Huckerby, in the dressing room before and after this weekend's game and in the stands to watch new loan signing Matty Pattison provide two big assists from his own favoured left-sided berth.
If only on the basis of 'If it ain't bust, don't try and fix it…' there must be every chance that the 32-year-old won't waltz straight back into Glenn Roeder's starting thoughts after now serving his three-match ban.
“I'm a team player,” said Huckerby. “I've been working hard and keeping myself fit and whatever way the manager sees me to play, I'll play.
“If he wants me to start, I'll start. If he just wants me to travel, I'll travel. So it's not a big problem for me.”
The last three games have, he said, been frustrating. He wasn't about to shy away from his derby day indiscretion after that ugly, late stamp on Town's man of the moment, Jonathan Walters.
“It was a silly challenge – even though I still don't think it was a red card. But it was silly challenge. I know that. And I let the team down.
“But I've served my ban now and I'm ready to help in whatever way the gaffer sees for me.”
Norwich gave themselves a lifeline on Saturday with that first win in 12 games. And while safety may still be at least four points – and, in every likelihood, at least four weeks or more – away, there is a definite sense that events are just starting to turn the Canaries' way. That there is, actually, a rescue plan afoot.
“It was a massive win,” said the two-time City Player of the Year as he looked back on that 2-0 win over Coventry City.
“It was not just that, it was the performance as well. Especially with the two games before, we got slapped about a bit. So more than anything it was consolidating what we've got and the new lads fitting in well.”
The one new lad that no-one has seen, of course, is Manchester City youngster Ched Evans.
The world sat up and took a little notice with that hat-trick against the French Under-21s last week, but otherwise he remains firmly in the unknown quantity camp. Even Huckerby's big pal Lee Croft – like Evans, a Manchester City Youth Academy product – knew diddly-squat about the free-scoring 18-year-old.
Certainly Huckerby was no wiser. The fact remains, however, that should the names Huckerby and Evans figure on tonight's list of substitutes it will give Seasiders' boss Simon Grayson plenty to think about if the scores are level come the hour-mark.
“I've not seen anything of him at all,” said Huckerby. “Obviously he scored the hat-trick the other day, but apart from that… To be honest, that was the first time that I'd heard of him.
“But he's a young lad; he's learning the game; this is a good place for him to come to,” added the City star, with the 38-year-old Dion Dublin about to take another striking wanabee under his wing.
“He's got players here who have played at the highest level and in Dion he's got a centre-forward that has played at the top.”
Huckerby has made no secret of the fact that, in his eyes, the Canaries were desperately short of the quality required to compete at this level. And while it might have ruffled the odd feather, he wasn't wrong. The table doesn't lie.
Hence his delight to see four new faces marching through the door. The first – Martin 'Tiny' Taylor arrived within 48-hours of Roeder's arrival. To Huckerby that clearly smacked of a manager that knew what he was doing.
“It's a big boost,” he said. “We all know we're short in certain areas.” Literally in one or two cases. Which is why six-foot four-inch 'Tiny' has been such a welcome addition.
“The manager's addressed that and he probably wants to get one or two more players in. But, at this time, any player helps us.”
The trick, of course, is to actually make Saturday's success count; to make sure that it is the start of something, as opposed to yet another dead end.
“We've got to build on this. It's no good winning on Saturday and then getting nothing at Blackpool. It's definitely a step forward considering the two games before that.”
One of which was, of course, yet another miserable away trip – this time the 12-hour round trip to Plymouth to witness a particularly wretched 3-0 defeat.
Today's trip to Bloomfield Road is likely to be every bit as long. It would, however, be nice if the outcome was rather different as the Canaries look to add to their magnficent one point haul on their travels. And that was a 0-0, opening day draw at Preston North End.
“We haven't really had a settled team all the way through,” said Huckerby, as he tried to put his finger on City's away-day woes. In the end, he settled for the simple truth – something he has long specialised in.
“We haven't been good enough – that's basically what it's been. There's no hidden agenda – away from home, and at home a lot of the time, we haven't been good enough. And it's easy to see why we haven't been picking up points.”
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