Young Declan Rudd's hopes of parking himself somewhere near a first team bench next season received something of a boost today as Canary No2 Matthew Gilks headed back up north as part of the deal to secure Wes Hoolahan's signature.
The Blackpool Gazette this afternoon reported that Hoolahan was due to complete his long-mooted switch to Carrow Road later today once the final details of a three-year contract were finalised. That was duly officially confirmed by the Canaries just after two o'clock this afternoon.
City boss Glenn Roeder rolled out the red carpet for a player that “could thread the ball through the eye of a needle”; 26-year-old Hoolahan said his first 'Hello!' to a club that had the Premiership ambitions to match his own.
“I want to play Premier League football as soon as possible and I believe this move will give me that opportunity,” Hoolahan told the official website.
Fresh from winning his first, full Republic of Ireland cap this summer, his arrival is likely to keep the punters on the edge of their seats once the real action starts. He twice tormented Norwich last season; he did the season before in that FA Cup trip to Bloomfield Road. The lad can play; his toes twinkle.
The fee was, according to the Gazette 'undisclosed', though much has been made of a reported ?250,000 'get-out' clause from his Bloomfield Road deal as the Canaries work that particular system to their advantage following last summer's bitter exit of both Dickson Etuhu and Robert Earnshaw on similar escape deals.
This afternoon, however, and senior City sources were suggesting that the final transfer fee could finish nearer the ?500,000-mark – a fact that either suggests Norwich were far from the only show in town; that an auction for his services had been underway at Bloomfield Road. Or else the ?250,000 'get-out' was more of a moveable feast than urban legend had it. Either way, Delia Smith's 'wait and see' remarks re further investment looked suddenly rather more telling.
With Queen's Park Rangers likewise mooted as Hoolahan fans, Gilks' departure as Seasiders' boss Simon Grayson looks for competition for current No1 Paul Rachubka could equally have helped swing the deal Roeder's way.
Hoolahan's name has been doing the rounds all summer long; not the biggest, he has however the same crowd-pleasing, entertainment factor as a certain D Huckerby.
The move certainly makes sense from Gilks' perspective after the 26-year-old barely got a sniff of a first team start last season and the writing may have already been on the wall come Norwich's final away game of the season when England Under-17 keeper Rudd found himself elevated to the bench at Hillsborough.
With fellow Engand youth international Jed Steer likewise storming up through the Academy ranks, Gilks' exit frees up that No2 keeper gig for the two Norfolk youngsters now, of course, under the guidance of newly-appointed goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright.
Certainly Rudd himself was delighted by his surprise inclusion at Hillsborough as he spoke to the club's official website yesterday.
“It was a surprise because I thought I was just travelling to get more experience of being around the team,” said the Canary youngster, who joined the crowds at the first day of the Royal Norfolk Show.
“When it was mentioned that I was on the bench, I was really pleased to be on there for the first time.”
And not the last, one now suspects, as the pace of Roeder's summer recruitment drive hots up. Rudd wouldn't appear to be one short on confidence.
“I believe in myself; I believe I can do it; and I'm confident,” said the youngster, about to get down to the serious business with Wright.
“I've heard a lot of good things about the new goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright and I've learned a lot from Gunny [Bryan Gunn] being a Norwich legend and a good coach as well.”
Roeder has also bolted on another key man to his backroom staff with ex-England Under-19 and Under-21 physio Simon Spencer joining the club as head physio following Neal Reynolds' exit to Arsenal.
One of the interesting points to Spencer's arrival is the fact that he will already be well-known to the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Kieron Gibbs and Co – all of whom will, literally, have passed through his hands on their international escapades.
Another 'selling' point to both the Premiership clubs and young players concerned as Roeder heads back into that teenage loan market later this summer.