City boss Glenn Roeder was still counting on at least two fresh faces arriving through the door at Colney in the next 48 hours. It might even be three or four…
Fresh from over-seeing Norwich's latest away-day triumph – a 1-0 over Southampton that lifted the Norfolk club into 16th spot and a million miles away from where they were just three, short months ago – Roeder didn't exactly deny yesterday's reports that they were hot on the heels of Scunthorpe United striker Martin Paterson.
Not that he wholly confirmed it either. It was one that needed a certain amount of reading between the lines.
“I don't like talking about other clubs players, but he's a player that has done particularly well since he's left Stoke and gone to Scunthorpe,” said Roeder, with The Iron insisting that they were intent on rejecting Norwich's reported ?850,000 offer.
“But I don't like other managers talking about my players and I think it would be wrong to talk about Martin Paterson while he is at Scunthorpe. But I have been impressed with what he has done so far in the Championship.”
If he is the hottest 'Iron' in the January fire, there were others.
The fact that Arsenal's youngsters went out of the FA Youth Cup at the fourth round stage last night courtesy of a 1-0 defeat by holders Liverpool should enable Roeder to exercise his first option on one of Arsene Wenger's starlets – Kieran Gibbs and Mark Randall both fitting the bill.
Likewise, should Gary Cahill switch from one side of Birmingham to the other in the next 48 hours as Alex McLeish's need becomes ever more desperate following Blues' 2-0 defeat to relegation rivals Sunderland, so the whole Martin Taylor situation could change again.
And finally – for now – there has been been much idle speculation about a possible loan swoop for 19-year-old Valencia midfielder Stephen 'Sunny' Sunday. Malaga remain the favourites for his six-month signature; the on-going managerial crisis at the Mestella may yet knock that little one on the head.
It all adds up to a frantic 48 hours as Roeder looks to keep the Canary pot nicely on the boil for Saturday's visit of a similarly in-form Preston North End.
“We'll have a few new signings in by Thursday,” promised the City boss, adding a further promise that one of those will be a centre back.
“I'm very confident about being able to announce two on Thursday and I like to think that there'll be at least one more – even another one. So definitely two, stroke three or four. Maybe.”
It was a sign of the times that all the latest transfer talk over-shadowed what was another excellent result on the road for the reborn Canaries. Since that miserable away defeat at Plymouth Argyle, Norwich have lost just once in the league – and that a last minute goal away at Stoke.
Otherwise they have been racking up points at the rate of two per game – 26 points from their last 13 Championship outings. And in young Master Evans, they have found themselves a welcome cutting edge as the on-loan 19-year-old bagged his fourth goal in just 12 City appearances to claim the points – albeit with the help of the St Mary's woodwork and an awful missed penalty from Saints striker Stern John.
Little wonder that Roeder is keeping a very close eye on events at Eastlands – hoping that the arrival of further strike reinforcements at Manchester City will enable boss Sven Goran Eriksson to allow Evans to stay at Carrow Road on a window-to-window deal as opposed to the current, one-month emergency loan arrangement.
“I really hope that we can,” said Roeder, quizzed as to whether he would like to pin Evans down to a full, further five months in Norfolk.
“Every day I'm looking at what Manchester City are doing in the transfer window and hoping that they sign a few strikers and theh they don't need to take him back.
“But obviously I'll respect what Sven does,” said Roeder, with the Swede's options helped by Daniel Sturridge's dramatic return from long-term injury with Evans' fellow prospect bagging City's FA Cup consolation strike against Sheffield United on Saturday after seven months out with hip trouble.
“But I firmly believe that if he can leave him here with us, he's going to play games and become a better player with us and we'll send him back to Manchester City for the start of pre-season next year a lot better player for being with us.
“Because if he was taken back to Manchester City he'll probably be used maybe on the bench with not so many minutes on the field which, at this stage in his career, I feel he needs.”
When goal No4 came, the teenager certainly took it with real aplomb. Having hit the post seconds earlier with a sharp header, it was a thumping right-foot finish from a smart Lee Croft pull-back that gave Norwich the victory. That and bucket loads of spirit as Southampton rattled the woodwork on three occasions and pushed David Marshall into telling saves on at least a further two.
“Apart from two very disappointing performances against Bury which we hold our hands up for, we have improved significantly,” said Roeder.
“We know we weren't at our best tonight, but they get a pat on the back tonight for how hard they dug in; rode our luck a little bit at times; obviously you expect penalties to be scored, so we were happy to see that one sail over the crossbar by such a wide margin.
“So not our best, but a lot of brave performances and no-one could accuse us of not keeping going under severe pressure.”