City boss Glenn Roeder will sit down this week with his two chief lieutenants, assistant boss Lee Clark and first team coach Paul Stephenson, and work out just how they try to solve a problem called Darel.
Or rather the three-game ban that now follows the 27-year-old's two-footed lunge on Foxes' full-back Richard Stearman on Saturday.
First things first, however. Any complaints about Russell's dismissal?
“No,” said Roeder simply, as he spoke after this weekend's 4-0 defeat at Leicester. The fact that the game also saw skipper Mark Fotheringham and veteran striker Dion Dublin pick up all the yellow cards they needed to likewise miss next Saturday's home clash with Barnsley merely added to the Colney conundrums.
“He's seen it himself and he realised how late it was and how far away from the ball he was. So the referee had little choice and I have no complaints with what the referee decided to do,” added Roeder. “What makes it the double-whammy is the fact that he now misses the next three games.
“Which gives someone else an opportunity. And as all the players know – if people come in and do well, it's not always easy to get your shirt back.”
And, of course, it is not just Russell who will have to pass his shirt on next week.
“I think Fozzy (Fotheringham) and Dion also miss next week's game. So there'll be a few of the lads that are in and around the squad that haven't started recently are going to get a start next week,” said Roeder. “They're waiting; they've been patient. So next week there will be an opportunity for two or three players to stake a claim to a shirt permanently for the rest of the season.”
At which point you can let the guessing games begin. There is, of course, the opportunity to dive back into the 'emergency' loan market. And while City's league position might have improved since the last time the Canary boss hit the phones in search of reinforcements, there is still a little air of crisis ahaed of Barnsley's visit this weekend – in particular that gaping hole where Norwich's central midfield used to be.
Matty Pattison can clearly fill one of those holes; that much makes for an easy decision. Thereafter, however, and Roeder's options are distinctly limited. If he opts not to bolt a short-term fix into place via the arrival of a seventh loan player, then it looks as if it will be a straight choice between Kieran Gibbs and Michael Spillane for the second midfield place.
Both come with slight question marks attached. Spillane has been on the edge of Roeder's thoughts and no more and was last spotted playing at right-back in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat against Bury, while it will be a big, big ask of the 18-year-old Gibbs to go into centre midfield having only just discovered what the Championship is all about with that largely anonymous outing against Hull City the other evening.
A Pattison-Gibbs combination has another problem in that both are naturally left-sided; denying Roeder the kind of simple balance he would ideally prefer at the heart of his side.
As for the absence of the 38-year-old Dublin following his late and frustrated lunge at The Walkers, Roeder might have one plan already tucked up his sleeve – one that was almost put into action when Reading 19-year-old Alex Pearce was spotted warming up on the touchline the moment that Dublin reached for somewhere around the bottom of his right calf on Saturday.
Sling the on-loan centre-half in at the back and ask Gary Doherty to return to his role as a make-shift centre-forward.
Given the fact that Norwich conceded four pretty sloppy goals on Saturday, the City boss now has every excuse to slam Pearce into his first team thinking anyway; that whilst the traditional Doherty-Shackell combination was keeping all comers at bay, so Pearce in particular had to be patient. One false move; one afternoon of leaking like a sieve and the strapping Royals' prospect will be in.
There is, of course, one other big decision to be made this week – one that will come under even close scrutiny given Roeder's lack of senior bodies. Whether or not Darren Huckerby returns to the fold after not even travelling to the Midlands this weekend.
“He wasn't included in this squad,” answered Roeder to the inevitable question. “He's fit at the moment, so we'll see how training goes this week for him and the rest of the squad.”
With the play-offs now disappearing back over the horizon again, the Canary boss wasn't about to dabble in a spot of crystal ball gazing. He knows how far the play-off pack are away and what, exactly, Norwich will have to do to get there by the first week in May.
“I'm looking at them – everyone's looking at them. But I don't predict in football. All I'll predict is that against Barnsley next week, you'll see a vastly different Norwich City team. And I don't mean players – I mean in terms of performance.”
The only ones to really emerge with any credit this weekend were the supporters and, rightly, Roeder paid tribute to the way in which they had travelled in such numbers – a sell-out, 3,000-strong away following being treated to a right dog's dinner of a game.
“Brilliant. Absolutely first class,” said Roeder, asked for his verdict on the Yellow and Green Army. “And they have been the whole time that I have been at the club. They are very important to us and they've been excellent on our travels.”
They, more than anyone, didn't get their due reward. But as the dust settled on one of the more miserable weekend's under Roeder's charge, so the Canary boss laid both a challenge and a promise at everyone's feet.
“It's all about how you handle defeat,” he said. “You can lay down and cry like babies or you can stand up like men and march on. And, for me, there's only one alternative – and that's the latter.”
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