Glenn Roeder's quest to bolt further firepower onto the front of his squad gained extra urgency tonight as the club revealed that top scorer Jamie Cureton could be sidelined for “the next two or three games” following an operation to remove his appendix on Monday night.
The City chief revealed after Saturday's narrow home win over Preston North End that the biggest chink in his transfer window armour was his failure to land another striker.
And while Cureton has been forced to play second fiddle of late to the on-loan Ched Evans, his second-half efforts against the Lilywhites – coupled to a subdued afternoon from the Manchester City teenager – might have put the Carrow Road favourite in line for a recall away at Cardiff this weekend.
That plan has now gone out of the window after the 32-year-old underwent a successful appendectomy on Monday night.
“Jamie wasn't feeling well on Friday, but he picked himself up sufficiently to take part on Saturday,” Roeder told the club's official website earlier this evening.
“On Sunday his stomach problems returned and he was admitted for surgery on Monday night for an operation that was a complete success.”
An operation that will, however, rule him out for at least the next three games – the trip to Ninian Park on Saturday, followed by the home clash with Hull City on Tuesday night and the trip to Leicester City on the following Saturday.
With a fair wind, Cureton might be available again for the home clash with Barnsley on the 23rd.
Roeder admitted after this weekend's game that the club was over-reliant on a 38-year-old Dion Dublin; given Cureton's absence, the veteran marksman will now have little alternative but to go into battle three times in a week.
“I don't want to get into a situation where we are relying too heavily on Dion,” said Roeder afterwards, at that stage wholly unaware that exactly that situation was about to arise as Cureton appendix entered the fray.
“But he is that alternative big striker that when you can't play your short passing game and you want an outlet, you look to Dion.
“But to ask him to play two games a week is a big ask. He wants to do it, bit obviously it's not easy for him.”
Which is precisely why Roeder went a-chasing Saints striker Grzegorz Rasiak last week – only to find the lure of Premiership football on loan at Bolton Wanderers too much for the six-foot Polish international striker to resist.
As Nigel Worthington and Peter Grant before him have discovered, 'alternative' strikers of Dublin's build, goal prowess and unstinting work ethic don't exactly grow on trees. Look back now and the Canaries have managed to get one without the other in the shape of first Robert Earnshaw and then Chris Brown.
Earnshaw will score goals for fun without ever bringing much to the party team-wise; Brown was the polar reverse – a big, team player that rarely managed to work his way into a shooting position.
Cureton might lack Earnshaw's clinical despatch, but proved again on Saturday that he still has an instinctive eye for both space and timely movement. And he has the experience of dealing with three, tough Championship games in a week – something that the likes of Evans and his fellow Premiership loans have yet to encounter in their young, footballing lives.
For them it has been one Premier Reserve League game every other week.
Had he nicked Rasiak out of Southampton, Dion could have had a rest; had Scunthorpe not slapped a ?5 million price tag on Martin Paterson, then Roeder might have had another strike ace up his sleeve.
The Pole was the one that niggles as the Saints bundled their ?12,000-a-week striker out of the door in a desperate bid to slash their costs. Rudi Skacel would follow before the window closed.
Acting chief executive Lee Hoos insisted it was just a case of freeing up space in the strike department with both Marek Saganowski and David McGoldrick now available again. “It is a good opportunity for Greg to make his mark in the Premier League and it is a good deal for us. Greg wanted to go so it makes sense for both of us,” Hoos told the Southampton Echo.
Joint caretaker boss John Gorman followed the company line. “We wish Greg well but we just move on. We have a lot of good strikers here so we feel we still have the firepower to mount a promotion challenge.
“Marek Saganowski has been working hard in training and is desperate to get back in the side and David McGoldrick is champing at the bit. He is desperate for first-team football, but could not get close because there was a bottle-neck of strikers.”
Rasiak left St Mary's with 33 goals in 64 starts and 19 sub appearances and having been left out of Poland's latest training camp ahead of their Euro2008 finals campaign in the summer, the 29-year-old was more than happy to put himself on a Premiership stage. Ironically he was an unused sub in Bolton's 2-0 win at Reading this weekend.
He said: “This is a big chance for me to play in the Premier League and to improve as a player. And Euro 2008 played a big part in my decision.
“It is only on loan at the moment. I still have two and a half years on my contract with Southampton, but if I do well and score goals then who knows what the summer will bring? The European Championships are very important to me and if I am playing for a Premiership team I have a bigger chance to be part of it.”
None of which will help Roeder as he waits for the re-opening of the 'emergency loan' window again this Thursday and a chance to bolt someone else into his goal-shy outfit.