City boss Glenn Roeder will finding himself wandering down some very familiar transfer paths over the next few weeks as he looks to bolt the elusive 'big 'un…' into his Championship strike thinking.
He muttered that need in a conversaton with the Press last week before the Canaries jetted down to Devon for this week's training camp – that, right now, he had a very small selection of strikers to select from.
Literally, given that his one and only experienced striker was Jamie Cureton. All five-foot eight-inches of him.
Next in line came Chrissy Martin. And while he may enjoy a couple more inches in height on Cureton, he is far removed from your out-and-out target man of Dion Dublin's unique ilk.
The City chief admitted that bolstering the front of his squad was no more a priority than giving Messrs Doherty and Shackell someone else to think about over the forthcoming weeks, but good, mobile, six-foot plus strikers that can physically – and mentally – hold their own in the Championship are like the proverbial gold dust.
The hapless David Strihavka ticked most of the boxes only for Peter Grant's answer to Norwich's Big Un' needs to be wholly over-awed by the physical demands of the English second tier. A night out in Burnley in the company of Clarets' defender David Unsworth found the Czech international striker horribly wanting – all-too meek a lamb led to the Turf Moor slaughter. You don't get any impression that Roeder is overly-tempted by the foreign strike market.
In the end, Grant had little or no option but to fall back on the ageing war-horse that was Dublin – particularly once Chris Brown forgot the bit about scoring a goal with your front to goal; had Grant's predecessor Nigel Worthington not taken that final punt on a then 36-year-old there is every possibility that Norwich would have spared Leicester City's blushes last season and plunged into League One.
Worthington, of course, had spent the whole of the previous summer trawling through the usual six-foot plus candidates – only to draw a blank on nigh-on every turn. Once Dean Ashton had been and gone in pretty quick fashion, Dublin was as close as Worthington ever got to replacing Iwan Roberts. Barely was Dublin in the building, however, than Worthington was out.
Chris Sutton was – for most – the one that got away. For whatever reason, the then City chief didn't fancy his north Norfolk neighbour; his old Bhoys boss Martin O'Neill did – only for an eye injury sustained in an away trip to Manchester United to bring Sutton's playing days to an end.
Once Aston Villa had stepped into the ring with their offer of Premiership football, it was one of those great answered questions as to whether or not Roughton's most famous resident would have spurned the A14 for the shorter commute to Championship football with his home city club.
Before that and Ipswich's Alan Lee was snapped up by Cardiff City as Worthington lurked; Rob Hulse was another one that got away. Geoff Horsfield is a blast from the past; Cureton might welcome a reunion with Chris Iwelumo after their 'Little and Large' act at Layer Road kept the Us bubbling along in the top half of the Championship table.
Interestingly and Derby County have already been a-sniffing an injury-hit Hulse this summer whose path back to a Blades start continues to be blocked by James Beattie. The one-time Crewe star proved a right, physical handful for the Canaries in their dismal trip to Bramall Lane last season. He'd do a job.
United have insisted that they have no immediate need to sell; Hulse may, however, be tempted to force the pace if he finds his own hopes of first team action barred by Beattie.
Turn your eyes to the North-East and Roeder has two more potential options in the six-foot plus striker market – the never-ending saga that is Shola Ameobi's whereabouts next season and another prospective loan signing in England Under-19 striker Andy Carroll.
His pre-season has, however, already been hit by a niggling heel complaint – sufficient to rule him out of joining Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs and Co in this month's European Under-19 Championships.
Whether Ched Evans would tick the big un box is another interesting question. The South Wales Echo had ten clubs lined up in a queue for his services as Cardiff City gunned to bring Wales' new strike hope to Ninian Park for the season.
With new Manchester City boss Mark Hughes likely to agree to a loan move for last season's smash loan hit at Carrow Road, Roeder will have to work over-time on his connections and charm to bring the boy back to Norfolk.
But – or rather, for as long as Jason Shackell stays put and Wolves' advances are spurned – it is the very front of the team that needs the most urgent transfer attention with Norwich's first friendly clash of the summer less than a week away.
“It goes without saying that with only Jamie at the club at the moment as a recognised and experienced striker that we need to find a couple of strikers,” said Roeder, speaking ahead of the week's trip to Nigel Mansell's fitness camp.
“A couple of our own – at least. And maybe take one in on loan,” he added, giving little immediate hint that he sees Martin as the answer to his strike prayers. The teenager's rehabilitation into the player that burst so brightly onto the first team scene in the spring of 2007 has still some way to go.
“I would feel a lot happier if we had four strikers than just three – but at the moment we've only got one,” said Roeder.
“But we're working on that – as we are on a few other positions as well. But tere's no priority – as they come along in the different positions, we'll sign them.”
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