With just eight days to go until the January transfer window slams firmly shut, reserve team boss Paul Stephenson was not giving much away with regards to the future of Liverpool trialist Lee Peltier.
He completed the full 90 minutes of last night's 1-1 reserve draw with Colchester United at Carrow Road and put in a solid shift at right-back. Whether he has done enough to earn a full-time deal or an extended trial, only time will tell.
The Canaries certainly need cover in that position – Jon Otsemobor remains the only natural right-sided defender in the squad – and whilst Andrew Cave-Brown has impressed Canary chief Glenn Roeder in training, it is not thought he is ready to be a first-team regular just yet.
Stephenson revealed that Peltier, who has made 19 League One appearances on loan at Yeovil this season, had been training with the club for 'a few days' but was keeping his cards very close to his chest when it came to the defender's future ? most definitely a case of wait and see?
“He's been training with us for a few days and he's done ok,” said Stephenson.
“I thought he did very well for us in the first-half tonight but he faded and that might be down to fitness. We'll know more in the coming weeks.
“We always want competition for places and if we can get to a position in the club where we've got strength with two people in every position then we are starting to make progress.
“We don't want to rely on the same people the whole time because you can get suspensions and injuries. We're always looking to strengthen. Full stop.”
Peltier played his part in a dominant Canary first-half against the U's last night but in truth, they faded after the break and Stephenson felt afterwards that they may have peaked too early.
An excellent Robert Eagle strike gave City the lead after 32 minutes – before Chris Martin and Ross Kelly had further opportunities to put the game out of sight – but they were left to rue those missed chances when a close-range Jamie Guy goal eight minutes after the break levelled the scores.
However, it was certainly an improvement on their last reserve outing ? a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of East Anglian rivals and runaway Pontins Combination leaders Ipswich.
“We were much better tonight,” added the City reserve team boss, who was brought to club from Hartlepool in December.
“If anything, I think we probably played too well in the first half and it was very hard to maintain it with such a young team.
“They can sometimes take praise the wrong way so I tried not to praise them too much, demanding more, but they knew they had played some really good stuff. We should have been more than one up at half-time but it was much more pleasing.
“It was a better blend for reserve team football and it was nice to see the Academy players forcing their way in and that gives the senior players a bit of a lift as well.”
It was a relatively inexperienced second-string line-up but to be fair to them, they coped with the threat of a certain T Sheringham very well.
The Essex side certainly had more first-team appearances under their belt between them but if City had been more clinical in the first 45 minutes, there would have been no way back for the U's. Ring any bells?
“I thought we coped with their experience well,” added Stephenson. “They didn't cause us any problems at all in the first-half and I honestly feel that we caused our own problems in the second-half.
“We didn't retain possession as well as we did earlier in the game and we were a bit loose with our first touch but in the first-half we passed and moved really well.”
The game's biggest talking point, however, on a wet and windy night in Norfolk was the sending-off of Michael Spillane for a sliding tackle on Guy in the 73rd minute.
The young Irishman certainly isn't getting much assistance from the officials at the moment and his second dismissal in as many reserve outings may mean another lengthy ban for Spillane. His previous red card, in the 5-1 Ipswich defeat, ruled him out for three matches.
It all comes at a time when he is starting to make a claim for a first-team spot and after several appearances on the Canary bench, and a starting spot in the FA Cup defeat at Bury, this latest setback comes at the worst possible moment.
However, Stephenson revealed afterwards that they are confident it will be rescinded. From my viewpoint, it certainly looked extremely harsh; Spillane won the ball fair and square.
But with the current clampdown on so-called dangerous challenges, the Cambridge-born defender may have to bite the bullet with this one and sit on the sidelines once more. He was not a happy bunny afterwards, that's for sure.
“When the referee sees that, we hope he's going to rescind it,” said Stephenson.
“Michael was sent off in the last game and it was a very unlucky tackle then. Today again, he has tacked with one leg, it sounded like there was a noise with impact but the lad has got up straight away. He clearly won the ball and let's hope common sense prevails.”
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