Messrs Cork and Aldridge did the Canaries precisely no favours this lunchtime as they handed the winners of next week's FA Cup third round replay at Gigg Lane a trip to Southampton in the fourth round.
Given that Norwich's progress to St Mary's is not exactly a foregone conclusion after all the trial and tribulations of this weekend's third round draw with a battling Bury side, the hope was that the winner would be rewarded with either a comfortable home draw and the prospect of a ticket to the fifth round – or else, a money-spinning TV tie against one of the Premiership big boys.
In the event, Liverpool legend John Aldridge delivered neither as he plucked ball No32 out of the FA's bowl – a trip to Southampton on, in all probability, Saturday, January 26th. Neither that easy nor at home. Nor any prospect of being screened live on TV.
To add to the fun and games, the Canaries travel to St Mary's for the league clash on the following Tuesday, the 29th. Two circuits of the M25 in the space of four days.
Of course, in theory it would have enabled the travelling Canary faithful to bump into ex-City playmaker Youssef Safri who left the Carrow Road club under something of a cloud last summer.
In practice the Moroccan international is due to be in Africa for the forthcoming African Cup of Nations tournament and will, therefore, miss the double-header against his former employers.
Who heads for the South Coast in a City shirt – events at Gigg Lane permitting – will, of course, dominate the headlines over the three weeks in between as the transfer merry-go-round swings wildly.
Next out of the door would appear to be striker Chris Brown with the goal-shy Canary forward appearing to be on the brink of agreeing a ?350,000 switch to Preston North End.
The Lancashire Evening Post today had Brown, 23, locked in talks with manager Alan Irvine and Lilywhites chairman Derek Shaw. Speculation was inevitable once both Chris Martin and Ryan Jarvis made it to Glenn Roeder's starting plans for the FA Cup clash with Bury.
At that point, you knew something was afoot as the Canaries avoided having the player cup-tied – a move they repeated with regard to 20-year-old keeper Joe Lewis who is still expected to complete his ?400,000 switch to Peterborough United in the next 24-hours. Put the two reported transfer fees together and the Canaries have covered the potential cost of one Martin 'Tiny' Taylor should Blues chief executive Karren Brady finally decide to play ball and deal.
“I think we are making progress on a few things,” Irvine told the Evening Post, like most managers refusing to speculate further until the ink was dry on a Deepdale contract. “Seeing is believing…” was Roeder's phrase.
“Deals are so complicated these days that I am frightened to say anything until it actually happens,” added Irvine. “So many things can go wrong between now and completing things. All I can say is we are working hard at it and I think we are getting closer on a few things.”
Time is not exactly on Preston's side – hence Norwich's seeming ability to drive a ?350,000 deal for a player that they bought for ?325,000 12 months ago and has scored all of one goal in 24 appearances since.
But with Irvine left to watch three of his front-line strikers leave last week – including target man Patrick Agyemang to big-spending Queen's Park Rangers – and with Lilywhites hanging around the same drop zone as the improving Canaries, so Preston would appear in no mood to knock Norwich down on their price.
“We need to get players in very quickly,” said Irvine. “But we need to get players in within our budget both in terms of transfer fees and wages. We had a situation on Saturday where we had just 17 players to choose from. It wasn't too difficult to pick the 16. I would like it to be a bit more difficult than that.”
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