Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson has left the door wide open for the Canaries to agree a further, extended loan deal until the end of the season for free-scoring youngster Ched Evans.
The 18-year-old – fresh from plundering a hat-trick in that startling Welsh Under-21 win against France – arrived at Colney as the fourth of Glenn Roeder's loan signings last week.
Initially the youngster was only pencilled in to stay in Norfolk until January 1 at which point, in theory, he was due to be returned to sender.
Speaking on the back of Tuesday's night's 3-1 win against Blackpool in which Evans made his second-half debut, the former England boss suggested that he would be more than happy for the teenager's footballing education to continue in the Championship until next summer.
Only then would he review Evans' progress and decide whether he had a long-term future at Eastlands.
All of which ought to be music to Roeder's ears if Evans can translate his Premier Reserve League goal-scoring form to the bigger, Championship stage. The Sky Blues' Academy product has bagged 12 goals from just eight Premier Reserve League games thus far this season and looks to have out-grown that particular challenge.
Norwich may, of course, have one other person to thank if Evans' loan is extended until the end of the season – West Bromwich Albion hitman Ishmael Miller whose own loan spell at The Hawthorns is proving such a roaring success.
Two years back down the Platt Lane factory line and Evans could likewise make a big name for himself over the next six months.
“What I want to do with players like Ishmael Miller and Ched Evans is that we know they are big talents, but if they can play a lot of League football until the preparations start for next season, I can look at them during pre-season and make a decision to say; 'Shall we keep them or shall well sell them or let them go on loan again?' So that for me is an ideal situation,” Eriksson told the official Manchester City website this week.
Eriksson's thinking is also likely to be influenced by the knowledge that he will have yet more of Thaksin Shinawatra's millions to spend as the blue half of Manchester continue to dream of snatching a place in Europe next season.
The biggest chink in the side's armour remains the lack of an out-and-out goal-scorer.
Emile Mpenza, Rolando Bianchi, Georgios Samaras and Geovanni have just eight goals between them all season – a paltry total for a club sitting third in the Premier League.
Eriksson bolts the real things onto the front of Micah Richards and Co and, back in Norfolk, Ched Evans finds himself one further rung down on the striker ladder at Eastlands.
Eriksson clearly thinks the kid is a prospect – just not yet at the top of the Premiership where only proven and world class will do.
“He's strong; a goalscorer; very brave and a very good talent,” Eriksson told the official City site.
“I think it's very good for him to go on loan and play in not just reserve games so we'll see what happens with him. He's at a good club and he has to work hard there and hopefully make the results better for Norwich.”
Results-aside, this is a big,big time for Roeder to decide where next with his various loan signings.
Jimmy Smith – currently out of Roeder's starting 16 – today insisted that he would be keen to stay for another month. His position is likely to be complicated by the African Nations Cup exodus that will rock Chelsea's Premiership title ambitions come January.
“I'm meant to be going back at Christmas because of the African Nations Cup, but who knows what will happen?” Smith told the Eastern Daily Press today.
“I think Norwich is a great club and it's a big club. You get 24,000 fans every week and you can't ask for more than running out in front of that every week. I would like to stay longer, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Roeder has already revealed that a deal is in place to sign Matty Pattison on a full-time basis from Newcastle United as and when the January transfer window re-opens on January 1.
And with ex-skipper Adam Drury sidelined until at least the late spring with his knee injury, the new City chief will be keen to extend Mo Camara's loan spell – something that he will now have to discuss with new Derby boss Paul Jewell after Billy Davies' exit this week.
The big one, of course, is the future plans of Martin 'Tiny' Taylor whose initial one-month loan spell from Birmingham City ends after the Sheffield United game in nine days time.
Having watched the 6ft 4in 28-year-old head home his second goal in four games in one box and produce another towering defensive display in the other, Roeder wasted little opportunity in smashing the ball firmly in the board's court when it came to the 'What next for 'Tiny' Taylor?' question at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night.
“I'd love him to stay…” was the general gist; 'Make it happen…' the under-lying message. Like Camara, however, Taylor's position has changed again since he first arrived by a change of managers at St Andrews where ex-Scotland boss Alex McLeish arrived in place of the Wigan-bound Steve Bruce.
McLeish – a long-time, ex-Aberdeen pal of City's 'club liason' officer Bryan Gunn – may want Taylor back in the building as Blues prepare for a likely bitter relegation fight; as may Bruce at the JJB.
If, however, the Carrow Road board was ever in need of a 'Huckerby moment' to restore their good standing in the eyes of the club's long-suffering supporters then stuffing a 'Tiny' Taylor in Roeder's Christmas stocking might just do the trick.
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