On-loan Canary youngster Ched Evans proved that he has lost none of his scoring touch by hammering home two goals for the Wales Under-21 side in Malta yesterday.
The 4-0 win took the Welsh starlets to the top of their Under-21 qualifying group with 19-year-old Evans producing a thumping header for the second and a coolly-taken penalty for an injury-time fourth.
He will, of course, be back in Wales this weekend when Norwich travel to Cardiff City. And given yesterday's news that Jamie Cureton will be out for at least “two to three games” following Monday's appendix operation, the spotlight will fall ever more on Evans.
Unless City boss Glenn Roeder can pull one last rabbit out of the hat once the 'emergency loan' window reopens again tomorrow, so the Canaries desperately need the teenager to keep his scoring boots on if their remarkable drive up the Championship table is to continue this spring.
“I'm over the moon,” Evans told the icWales website after his latest international scoring feat.
“It was a good game to play in, I'm over the moon to get two goals, but I'm more pleased to have topped the group,” added the on-loan Canary striker, as all eyes in Wales fall upon the next generation of young Dragons coming up through the system.
Certainly that's the way that John Toshack's mind is working; that the Principality's 2010 World Cup challenge will be built around players of Evans' ilk as the Ryan Giggs', Carl Robinsons and Robbie Savages of this world bow out. Some with more grace and good-will than others.
“All I can do is keep playing well and bide my time and my chance will come at the right time when John is ready to give it to me,” said Evans yesterday, quizzed as to whether he was aware that Toshack may already have one eye on the free-scoring youngster.
After all, Rob Earnshaw can barely get a game for Derby County and with Freddy Eastwood badly out-of-sorts at Wolves and Craig Bellamy only now on his way back from injury at West Ham United, Evans looks the hottest strike ticket around right now.
Certainly Roeder is well aware of the prospect now at his disposal for the rest of the season after Manchester City boss Sven Goran Eriksson granted that window-to-window switch – albeit at the eleventh hour last Thursday.
Speaking before the Preston North End clash last weekend, Roeder was still basking in Evans' winner at St Mary's as the teenager smashed his fourth goal for the Canaries beyond a helpless Saints keeper.
“He's got a hammer of a right foot on him, hasn't he?” said Roeder, handed at least one further strike option in the shape of Chris Martin who bagged a timely hat-trick yesterday in the Reserves' 5-0 thumping of Luton Town.
For now, however, Norwich's strike eggs were firmly in Evans' basket as Cureton's appendix adds to Roeder's concerns. He's not the finished article, admitted the City chief, but he remains a very hot prospect.
“Sometimes you forget with young players how young they are,” he said. “And when their hold-up play isn't quite what you want it to be, you just have to remind yourself how young he is,” said Roeder, already well aware of Toshack's determination to guide a whole new generation of Welsh youngsters onto the international stage.
On yesterday's Under-21 efforts and his on-going performances for the Norfolk side, Evans is thrusting himself firmly to the front of that queue – and staking an early claim for Toshack's 2010 World Cup plans.
“John Toshack is changing the Wales team around and I think by staying here for this season, I think he will even have a chance of getting called up for the full squad.”
It took the Welsh youngsters an hour to break the Maltese down. After that, however, they won at a canter and had Under-21 boss Bryan Flynn purring with delight.
“It was a comfortable win,” Flynn told icWales. “After the first half, we'd have taken a 1-0 win, but, all credit to the lads, they came in and played really well.
“To be at the top of the table at this moment in time, everyone in Wales has to be pleased with that and we've now got the added pressure of being favourites, but I know we can handle it.”