Canary chief Glenn Roeder will be keeping a very interested eye on the comings and goings at Carrington this summer as Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson prepares for his own mass shake-up.
Roeder has made no secret of the fact that he faces an exhaustive summer trying to rebuild Norwich City into a genuine Championship force next season. Provided, of course, nothing untoward happens in the next five weeks…
For not only will the Canary chief have to bid farewell to his five loan signings – Maceo Rigters' brief stint as loan signing No6 having ended on the back of last Saturday's torn hamstring – but he has four senior players out of contract; their Carrow Road futures yet to be set in stone.
Dion Dublin's future has long been established – the 38-year-old is bound for the nearest TV studio once he says his farewells to Norfolk.
But Darren Huckerby, skipper Mark Fotheringham and centre-half Gary Doherty all have big decisions to make; as, of course, does Roeder. A one-year deal here, three years there…? How much of his summer war chest is he going to devote to the three senior players in his midst?
With a clutch of decisions to be made on some of the younger players, Roeder could easily head into the next campaign a dozen players light. All of which ensures that he will have to hit the ground-running transfer-wise this summer.
Equally, it will ensure that he will be keenly interested in what the likes of Eriksson, Steve Coppell, Arsene Wenger and Avram Grant get up to in the summer and how that then impacts on his prospects of persuading the likes of Ched Evans, Alex Pearce, Ryan Bertrand and Kieran Gibbs to return for a second, longer tour of duty.
Will Eriksson see the finished Premiership product in Evans, still aged just 18? Or will the Swede award the teenager with a new Eastlands' deal but then bolt another season in a Championship 'finishing school' into the young man's armoury?
Decision time will come around the July mark if his comments this week are any guide.
“If I had to make a plan today, it's to take him back for pre-season, look at him and decide from there. That will be his big chance,” said Eriksson this week. “He's doing well at the moment for Norwich and his country. But a little bit depends on him.”
It was clear from the Manchester Eveing News this week that the greater part of Eriksson's time this summer will be devoted to a major over-haul of his under-performing strike department.
For having once threatened to rock the Top Four's applecart, City's inability to find the net on a regular basis has seen them slip back down the Premiership pack and there was very little to enjoy in their 3-1 defeat by Birmingham City last weekend.
Cue Eriksson calling on Thaksin Shinawatra's millions this summer as the Swede turns to the club's controversial Thai owner in the hope of finding the kind of strike power he needs to bolster City's European hopes next season.
Both ?9 million man Rolando Bianchi and Bernardo Corradi have flopped and are back in Italy on loan; neither is expected to return. Ditto Georgios Samaras, now off-loaded at Celtic.
To those three can be added the veteran Paul Dickov, who is expected to leave at the end of his contract and, according to the MEN, Emile Mpenza whose rolling year-on-year deal unlikely to be renewed.
Which will leave the injury-plagued Valeri Bojinov, ex-Portsmouth striker Benjani, Felipe Caicedo and the two youngsters – Evans and Danny Sturridge.
As promising as Evans has proved, it is some challenge for the on-loan Canary striker to make the way to the front of that queue – let alone leap ahead of whoever Eriksson brings in over the summer.
At best, he might be looking at the fourth-striker role – provided he can keep Sturridge behind him. Whether he will settle for that – or whether Eriksson will want him to settle for that – could be one of the key questions as far as a watching Canary boss is concerned.
“The money the manager has to spend probably won't help me,” Evans has admitted, quoted on this occasion on the icWales.co.uk website.
“But if I work hard and impress him in training, he will be forced to have a look at me and then I must take my chance. I'm confident in my own ability, I just need the chance and show the boss that he won't need to buy a striker.”
If Roeder is keen to keep the youngster with the hammer of a right foot in Colney for longer, the Welsh are even more desperate for the teenager to prove the real deal at international level as Wales boss John Toshack starts to put together his thinking for their 2010 South African World Cup qualifying campaign.
Before then and Evans will be centre stage with Brian Flynn's Under-21s as they look to qualify for their own Euro finals this summer.
The young man knows another crossroads in his career is fast approaching. The fact that the next generation of Manchester City youngsters are in the final of this year's FA Youth Cup suggests that behind him the Carrington conveyor-belt is in full swing; that there will be some sharp and eager little 17-year-old snapping at his heels come pre-season.
“Hopefully I'm going to get a new contract at Manchester City,” Evans added on icWales.
“I've got a year left on my deal there and they have said they are going to offer me a new one. I'm looking forward to going back to Manchester to show the manager how much I've improved and how good I am.”
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