As teenage Arsenal starlet Kieran Gibbs settled into his new surroundings at Colney this morning, Canary boss Glenn Roeder might be forgiven for offering a quiet word of thanks to one kind soul still back in North London.
And on this occasion it might not be the name of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger who crosses his mind first – rather a young left-back called Rene Steer.
For it was a 23rd minute own goal by the Arsenal defender that gave FA Youth Cup holders Liverpool a narrow, 1-0 win over their fourth round opponents at Anfield on Tuesday night.
With their interest in the Carling Cup having ended the week before with that humbling, 5-1 semi-final defeat against Spurs, Steer's misfortunes on Merseyside merely ensured that the likes of Gibbs and Mark Randall had nothing else to play for this season as the Gunners FA Youth Cup challenge likewise came to an early conclusion.
It was only then that Wenger would listen to loan offers – and even then, it was only for two of his younger rising stars. Theo Walcott was going nowhere. Randall, meanwhile, arrived in Burnley yesterday.
“They did say that if we stayed in the FA Youth Cup and the Carling Cup then we would probably stay until the end of the season and wait until next season to go,” said Gibbs, who marked everyone's card as to his potential with a goal in either leg of last year's FA Youth Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United. Alas it wasn't enough to see the young Gunners through.
It would, he admitted, have been a close call – between gunning for that FA Youth Cup and righting last season's wrongs or bolting on three months worth of Championship football onto the 18-year-old's already impressive armoury.
“It's a difficult choice because you only get two chances really at the Youth Cup – last year we got knocked out as well. And I always wanted to win the Youth Cup. But then, Championship football – what can you say? It's a great experience and a great opportunity for me. And if I was to choose, I'd probably choose to come here.”
Roeder was certainly delighted with the decision – whether it was Gibbs' own or Wenger's.
“The young man from Arsenal is highly technical and highly talented,” said Roeder this morning, ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Preston North End.
“He's one of those players that Arsene rates extremely highly and who he expects to have an Arsenal career. And that'll do for me.”
There is, of course, a world of difference between the type of football as showcased by the Gunners at The Emirates and that which awaits Master Gibbs at, say, The Walkers Stadium. It's a rough, tough league out there, though in fairness the teenager already has one 'battle scalp' in the shape of Sheffield United who Arsenal brushed aside 3-0 in the earlier rounds of the Carling Cup.
“Sheffield United are a strong team and don't really like to play football, but our football came through in the end,” said Gibbs, insisting he was not one to shirk a challenge.
“I'll go for it. It's a different game Championship football to Premiership, but I might as well just go for it and give it a shot,” he said, offering little by the way of a 'Big Time Charlie'.
He would, for example, play wherever. And nor would he be neglecting his defensive duties.
“I like to attack more than defend, but there are two sides to the game. I prefer to play more central than out wide, but wherever the manager plays me is where I'll play,” he said.
The other big challenge is coping with the intensity of Championship football. Gibbs and Co should just about have enough time to get acclimatised before March hoves into view with seven games in the space of little more than four weeks.
The fact that Roeder now has seven loans on his books and can only put any five into his first 16 may at least encourage him to rest one or two shattered minds and bodies. That said, the City chief was keen to insist that he had recruited four mentally tough lads in the last 48 hours.
“It's a great experience for me – for someone at this age to finally get what I've been looking for so, hopefully, if I can work hard enough then the manager will give us a chance,” said Gibbs.
“And I'm looking forward to it a lot. I've never been used to such intense games every week – our reserve league is a little bit different – so I think it will be interesting.”
Very interesting, you strongly suspect.