City boss Glenn Roeder was not in the least bit surprised. Seeing 19-year-old Reading youngster Alex Pearce jet off in search of some Spanish sun with a bottle of 'Man of the Match' bubbly under his arm was exactly what the Canary manager had expected.
“I see that every day in training,” said Roeder, after the on-loan Royals centre-half was finally granted his Norwich debut and didn't disappoint. In fairness to Roeder, he had long been suggesting that Pearce was something special.
It was just a case of picking the right moment to throw the teenager in. And that 4-0 defeat at Leicester City last weekend duly opened the door for Pearce to follow teenage loan stars Evans, Bertrand, Henry and Gibbs into Roeder's first team thinking.
Jason Shackell was the one to make way as Pearce's eye-catching form in training was granted its due reward.
“I have been saying that for a while,” said Roeder after yesterday's big, 1-0 win over Barnsley pushed his re-born Canaries into the top half of the table for the first time this season. “It's not as if I'm sitting here and saying: 'Wow, that's a big surprise… He doesn't train like that…'
“Shacks (Shackell) was unlucky to lose his place, but I was just hopeful – and relatively confident – that Alex Pearce could convert his training ground form [into playing on match day].”
Among a clutch of other attributes – and there weren't too many headers that the Scottish Under-19 international missed all afternoon – Pearce's consistency in training has also caught Roeder's eye. Grant him the keys to Fort Knox over the summer and he was another that the Canary chief would love to recruit on a longer-term basis.
“He's an absolute wonderful person to work with and you can see why Steve Coppell wants him back after he's had the experience of playing Championship football.
“And that was what I was hoping I would see – what I see in training every day. But to carry it off on your home debut in front of 24,000 people just shows you that he's made of the right stuff.”
Speaking to the club's own official website afterwards, Pearce was naturally delighted at the way his afternoon had unfolded. A clean sheet, a win and a Man of the Match award on your debut – life must be pretty good for the Reading prospect.
“It's a nice start for me,” Pearce told CanariesWorld. “But the main thing I wanted was a win and to have a clean sheet with it as well was a bonus.”
The youngster cut his Football League teeth with Bournemouth in the autumn; come the spring and albeit on the basis of one game, it looks as if the Championship will not hold too many fears for the six-foot two-inch centre-half. Both he and Gary Doherty had their hands full on occasion yesterday as the Tykes looked to heave both bodies and balls forward in the game's final third.
But time and again, the pair would answer every question aimed at them. Certainly Pearce's performance showed a maturity beyond his years.
“It was a good start, but I need to carry that on now,” he said, suggesting that he's not one to rest on any laurels.
“Carry it on into next week – if I get selected – and put in another good performance and, hopefully, kick on from there.”
Had it been a frustrating time for the teenager, seeing everyone else get there chance ahead of him?
“Not really, because the team has been doing well,” said Pearce, with Roeder's Canaries having long proved the masters of the 1-0 win. Or at least until that very off day at The Walkers Stadium last weekend when all concerned had one to forget.
At which point Roeder had every reason to make changes – not least due to the fact that he emerged from that 4-0 mauling with three players suspended. It will be interesting to see whether Dion Dublin and Mark Fotheringham can now walk straight back into that winning team; Darel Russell will be left to sit out both the Blackpool home game on Saturday and the away trip to Watford in mid-week following his three-match ban for that straight red against the Foxes.
“As a player you want to be playing and I always believed in myself that I could do a good job,” Pearce told CanariesWorld.
“But it's only one game and I've got to keep it going and I'll hopefully do a good job for this team.”