Ask City boss Glenn Roeder what he'd like Santa to slip in his sack this Christmas and you'll get a very simple answer – a 'Tiny' Taylor, please.
For while the ageless Dion Dublin will rightly gain many a-headline this morning for his two-goal haul in Norwich's first away win of the season at Blackpool last night, it was the growing impact of the on-loan Birmingham City centre-half that is fast coming to dominate people's thoughts.
Not least for the fact that he has – as things currently stand – just three more games left in a Norwich City shirt before his month-long loan period ends.
Away to Stoke City on Saturday, at home to Plymouth Argyle next Tuesday night and then a final, farewell outing at Carrow Road against Sheffield United. And that's it. Back to St Andrews for Christmas to meet new Blues' boss Alex McLeish.
But given the 28-year-old's influence on events in either penalty area, it is clear that Roeder has his heart set on keeping the six-foot four-inch Taylor firmly put in Norfolk.
Indeed, what looked very much like a gauntlet was laid gently at the board's feet last night as the new Canary manager was quizzed about what next for Taylor – the man who has, finally, filled that long-vacant No5 shirt. And all with such telling effect.
“We haven't even spoken about it at the moment,” said Roeder. That, it seems, will start in earnest next week. However, the City boss was more than happy to lay out the reasons why he should be going nowhere; why everyone's best interests would be served by 'Tiny' making an even bigger name for himself in Norfolk.
“He's scored a couple of goals since he's been here – he gets on very well with the squad. They like him; he likes them.”
Talks will take place as and when that departure date looms a little larger. “That time is coming,” said Roeder. “Probably some time next week.”
The fact the McLeish was due to be unveiled at St Andrews this morning may, however, muddy the waters. The former Scotland chief may yet want to have Taylor back in the building over Christmas in order to judge for himself just what Steve Bruce has left him. Again, that might be one for City's 'liason officer' Bryan Gunn – he and McLeish go right back to their Aberdeen days together. If ever there was a favour that needed to be pulled…
“There's a new manager been appointed at Birmingham and all those sort of factors have to be considered by him – as well as ourselves,” said Roeder, gauntlet at the ready.
“But I would love to be able to keep him. And I'm sure the board would back me on that – if we can possibly keep him, I'm sure they'll let me keep him.”
Not for the first time, Roeder pointed to the positive impact he's had on Jason Shackell's game since his arrival. The pair were outstanding last night with the City skipper looking big, strong and confident. The manner in which he threw himself into clearing Wes Hoolihan's twice-saved penalty – and, in particular, the manner in which he celebrated that spot-kick denial – suggested a player re-born. The two work well together, was Roeder's big point.
“He's had a big influence on Shackell as well,” said the Canary manager. “Shackell has been able to play his own game, feeling safe that the man next to him can produce the sort of performances week in, week out that allows him to just concentrate on his own game – because he's still a young defender. And he needs to do that. And not be worrying about players around him.
“He needs to get his own performance right first and big Taylor is helping him.”
Roeder also had a big word of praise for 38-year-old Dublin who bagged goals No3 and No4 of the season either side of Taylor's brave, stooping header. Dublin's first was all about his movement; stepping across his marker to meet Matty Pattison's menacing, in-swinging corner and then applying the simplest of touches to guide the ball beyond a helpless keeper – the second was simply a sure and certain low finish from a neat, Darren Huckerby lay-off.
It just calmly ended the night's contest. No fuss, no bother. Just a natural, 16-yard finish from a natural finisher.
“He's out of the old school,” said Roeder, with a different take on that phrase. “I've always changed 'old' to right. He's out of the right school.
“He's 38 now and I worked with him when he was at the height of his career back in '97-98 when I worked with England and I found him a first class human being. And I like working with people with great attitudes – and he's certainly got great attitude.
“And, of course, he's got the ability to go with the great human being that he is. And he doesn't need to be playing at 38, but he loves the game so much that he is. And he is a vital member of the team; he's very important to me because he spends so much time in the dressing room with the other players and I know he'll be saying the right things when I'm not there.”
Roeder wasn't papering over every crack. In between Dion at one end and Tiny at the other, there were a few pairs of legs that looked to be tiring after Saturday's efforts; a few minds that were not quite back up to match speed after all too long on the sidelines.
There were, in short, when City looked slightly sloppy in both thought and deed and, on other nights, may have paid a higher price for being off the pace for spells.
“There were a few players – which I expected – who were not quite at their sharpest,” he said. “And I've told them that – and they understand that. And that's how they felt.
“Matty Pattison, for instance. He hasn't played any first team football. The adrenaline of playing his first game on Saturday got him through that game where he was a match-winner for us with his two assists,” added Roeder, as the South African-born Geordie made way for Lee Croft midway through the second period.
“And the same with Mo Camara – he hasn't played any football at all. And at times tonight he came under a little bit of pressure, but he didn't half dig in. And he won a fantastic header right on the back post late on where he just found the energy to get up and nick the ball on.
“And Fotheringham again. He hasn't played much football. Been out injured a long, long while. Magnificent on Saturday; he came here tonight; dug in deep; probably wasn't quite as good as he was on Saturday, but still played a major part in the win.
“So those three players have got through two games now and I'm sure come Saturday which will be their third game, they should start to find their first team legs.”