City boss Glenn Roeder looks set to be able to name a unchanged line-up for the third successive game this weekend after the Canaries returned from their long haul north to Blackpool on Tuesday night with nothing more to worry about than the unusual sight of big, broad smiles all round.
The mid-week 3-1 win over the Seasiders – coupled to last Saturday's 2-0 home win over Coventry City – has left the Norfolk side bottom only on goal difference. Pick up even a point away at the land of the giants in Stoke this weekend and Roeder's first mission could be accomplished within five weeks of his arrival – hauling the Canaries off the bottom.
With back-to-back home games against Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield United to then follow, Norwich could – could – head into that hectic Christmas spell in the heady heights of 17th or 18th. The world would, indeed, look a very different place. Particularly with the January transfer window about to open for business.
“I don't think there's anything that we picked up from the other night,” said Roeder, having switched his pre-match Press conference at Colney to a Friday morning.
“So I think we're all OK,” he added. It was remarkable what two goals can do for even 38-year-old legs as Dion Dublin prepares for his third start in a week.
“Dion felt fine after the game – no cramp at all,” said Roeder, revealing that he has long taken a leaf out of Arsene Wenger's book in terms of looking after some ageing limbs a la that famed Arsenal back four.
“He's got a stretching programme just to keep him as supple as possible – he doesn't need to waste his energy on the training ground; he needs it for the games,” said Roeder.
“I always remember Nigel Winterburn who played for me at West Ham. He gave credit to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal for keeping that back four going for probably two more years than it might normally have done by Arsene's routine in terms of stretching them and not working too hard on the training ground.”
The one change that Roeder might consider would be to restore Darren Huckerby to his starting line-up; that and give young Master Evans his first start. For now, however, it appeared that both would have to settle for chomping at a bit on the bench.
Evans' arrival – and the prospect of the Manchester City 18-year-old extending his loan stay until the end of the season – ought to have got one or two people thinking, said Roeder.
“I've been very impressed with him,” said Roeder, who had earlier admitted that he had taken the Welsh Under-21 striker on little more than Stuart Pearce's recommendation. Now he has got him in the building, he can see just what the fuss might be about.
“If he gets chances, he'll take more than he misses. And if he converts what I've seen in training to the pressure of playing in a game… He's quite deadly in training. He's got a lot of power – especially in his right foot. And I'm as certain as I can be that we will get plenty of use out of him.”
And that would be beyond January 1 too – given that Sven Goran Eriksson all but gave the green light to an extended loan stay this week after watching Ishmael Miller flourish at West Bromwich Albion. A thought that ought to keep both Jamie Cureton and Chrissy Martin on their toes.
“I haven't seen anything that would put me off having him here for as long as possible – it just creates more competition for places,” said Roeder. “Jamie wouldn't have had his best game the other night – he knows that he has got to perform well all the time. Like they all have now.”
It certainly sends a big shot across the bows of England Under-19 striker Martin. Good, appeared to be Roeder's thinking.
“If I was Chris Martin, it would make me think anyway,” said the City boss. “Another young lad has come in of a similar age and he's found himself on the bench very quickly and on the pitch for 20, 25 minutes or so. That would make me sit up and take notice; that maybe I needed to get my head down, work harder and get myself back in the squad.”
Week by week, Roeder is asking questions of both Martin and his fellow Academy product Michael Spillane. Have they got the right answers for him? That's Roeder's challenge to the home-grown pair.
“Chris Martin and Michael Spillane are two players that I have got a lot of time for, but in my opinion it'll take months to really get inside their heads and make them what I know they are going to have to become.
“Those two players definitely have the ability to be first team players at Norwich on a regular basis, but only time will tell whether they have the mentality to go with the ability.”
There was, of course, one inevitable question doing the rounds – the prospect of Martin 'Tiny' Taylor extending his loan spell beyond that home clash with Sheffield United in eight days time. It is a question that is likely to be asked again and again. For now, however, Roeder was suggesting that next Wednesday would be D-Day – the day he spoke to both new Blues boss Alex McLeish and the player himself once the midweek clash with Plymouth was done and dusted.
“I think Alex has got his hands full at the moment with his first game coming up at the weekend, so I'll speak to Alex after Tuesday. And, of course, I'll speak to Martin after the game.”