Today's less-than-shock exit of City's sports scientist Dave Carolan will merely fuel speculation that Jonny Wilkinson's biggest sporting pal could enjoy a rather higher profile at Colney next season.
Steve Black – the man widely accredited with keeping Wilkinson on track following a succession of potentially career-threatening injuries for the England World Cup star – has for now remained largely in the shadows at Colney.
And, indeed, may still if City boss Glenn Roeder sees his role as more on the motivational side of the game than the fitness and conditioning work he undertook with the Newcastle Falcons rugby union team up until his sudden exit last December.
There is, however, little doubt that he is one of life's larger-then-life characters and as Carolan's long-mooted exit comes to fruition, so there could – potentially – be a ready-made replacement already waiting in the wings as Carolan's ten-year association with the Norfolk club comes to an end.
Certainly Wilkinson is a huge fan of Black's motivational powers – the fact that the one-time feared Newcastle door-man's first love is actually football and he enjoys a long-time friendship with City No2 Lee Clark after accepting a mentoring role for the younger players under then-United boss Kevin Keegan should see his star on the rise at Colney as another one disappears to pursue other interests.
Along with kit-man Terry Postle, assistant physios Rod Dyer and Pete Shaw and Academy coach Neil Adams…
Academy education officer Darren Bloodworth and Canary physio Neal Reynolds have also left of their own accord – one to be nearer his King's Lynn base, the other to accept a No2 physio role with Premiership giants Arsenal.
Thus far, only Postle has been replaced. But as attention now starts to turn as to who, exactly, will be left to fill the vacancies within 'Team Glenn' the smart money would be on 'Blackie' performing some key role – even if it remained on the mentoring/motivational side of the game. Getting Chrissy Martin's professional career back on the rails would be the perfect start for an all-too familiar figure in North-East sporting circles.
“There is simply no-one I am closer to in the world of professional sport,” wrote Wilkinson in his regular column in The Times last December – as news of his surprise exit from the Falcons emerged.
Black, he said, was a friend for life. He is, clearly, a man that inspires intense loyalty – as, in every likelihood, Clark has demonstrated with his arrival in Norfolk. Roeder will, likewise, be all-too well aware of the man's motivational powers from his own time on Tyneside.
“Of course, I will stay close to him,” added Wilkinson. “He is a part of my life which simply can't be removed like a piece of a jigsaw. It is way beyond that.
“He is the piece that is glued in place. We have a future invested in each other and loads of different directions to go together in the rest of our lives. For me, at my age, it is exciting to think that.”
“Jonny is my pal and I will always be there for him,” said Black, at the time of his Falcons exit. “My leaving Newcastle will not change that. Nothing I will do in the future will affect our relationship in any way.”
Whether Roeder now goes the same way and employs a sports scientist of Carolan's ilk or entrusts much of that role to Black – he was, after all, 'fitness and conditioning coach' at the time of his Falcons exit – remains to be seen.
But, once again, the City chief has proved determined to start wholly from afresh this summer – however painful that process may prove individually to those caught in the path of the Roeder revolution.
Carolan, who arrived in Norfolk in 1998, was fulsome in his tribute to the club – and the city – that he calls home.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my ten seasons at Norwich City Football Club in which we experienced some great highs and some disappointing lows. Reaching the play-off final and promotion to the Premiership will forever be memories linking me to fantastic times at Norwich,” the departing sports scientist told the club's official website today.
“It has been my pleasure to work with fantastic players, and excellent staff – and to serve an outstanding club which is unique in the world of football,” he added. “With my expertise and experience I can look forward to working in other sports at elite level and will take my knowledge to work with and help other professional sportsmen and women and highly-motivated individuals looking to improve their fitness.
“I look forward to success returning on the pitch at next season at Carrow Road, where I will be returning with my children to support the club in the place we call home.”
Roeder added his own farewell. “Dave has worked very hard over the years to keep the club abreast of the expanding area of sports science and the opportunities and changes it brings to the modern game,” he said. “I'd like to wish him well in whatever challenge he moves on to next and to thank him for his efforts for Norwich City.”
Elsewhere and one or two games were clearly in motion – Posh supremo Barry Fry was in his element hawking new England squad member Joe Lewis to the potential highest bidder. He'd 'heard' ?3 million from Everton today and was clearly intent on letting everyone know that he wanted four as the ex-City keeper's meteoric rise through the football ranks continued, whilst up at Scunthorpe long-time Canary target Martin Paterson was making it very plain that he was not doing League One football with the Iron again as he handed in a transfer request.
Which was promptly rejected by the Scunthorpe board as the transfer games continued. Burnley have, reportedly, had two bids for the 14-goal striker rebutted – the last for ?550,000. Whether that is all getting too rich for Norwich's liking or whether Roeder is just biding his time before stepping in remains to be seen.
One thing is, however, all-but certain. Paterson won't be at the Iron next season – at some point Scunthorpe will cash that chip in. No-one can afford to keep a player at a club against his will – least of all a club of Scunthorpe's slender resources. Player and agent between them have clearly decided it's time to get away…