City boss Glenn Roeder revealed his growing frustration at the state of the summer transfer market last night as the rumour mill whirred into ever greater life on the eve of their departure to Sweden.
The name of Fiorentina's Arturo Lupoli was met with a blank response and a 'That's probably your answer then…' while City sources have suggested that both Linfield's Alan Thompson and Fulham's Dejan Stefanovic could figure on the Roeder radar.
Luton's David Bell has been a long-time target and is understood to be one of those players whose price shot up 50% overnight as news of Peter Cullum's ?20 million war-chest filtered its way through the football village. This morning and The Daily Mirror insisted that that deal was finally done – that the two clubs had finally settled on a ?600,000 fee with Bell due at Carrow Road today for a medical with a view, presumeably, to being on the plane for Sweden tomorrow.
Meanwhile The Sun yesterday added another potential loan starlet to the pot in the shape of Stefanovic's teenage right-back colleague Elliot Omozusi – with a fee all but agreed for the former Pompey skipper, Roeder was now looking to tie up a loan move for the young defender.
The fact that City's principal shareholder Delia Smith enjoys a long-standing friendship with Cottagers' boss Roy Hodgson may help smooth that one along. That said, you suspect dealing with Fulham's own 'charismatic' owner Mohamed Al-Fayed might be less than straight-forward.
Dealing with any agent these days is equally fraught with peril given the webs those boys invariably weave.
All of the above make sense. Jon Otsemobor remains the only experienced right-back in the club; Omozusi – another one with England Under-19 cpas to his name – could then be to Otsemobor what Ryan Bertrand is to Adam Drury. Stiff competition, in short.
Stefanovic is the classic leader of men who was hero-worshipped at Fratton Park before his switch to Fulham last summer. A change of manager has done the 33-year-old Serb few favours, however. What will do him many a favour in this neck of the woods is the fact that he is left-sided – having played left-back for Portsmouth.
With Omozusi equally at home playing in the middle, the Fulham pair could provide a whole new, centre-half pairing something that has long figured among Roeder's priorities.
Bell has long been ear-marked to give Lee Croft a run for his money on the right-hand side, leaving Roeder with the three gaps to fill up front. The free-scoring Thompson could be one answer – and coming in at the ?150,000-mark, looks a cheap and cheerful option. Given the choice between Norwich City and his long-time suitors Stockport County that ought to be a non-contest. Reports of QPR's interest appear to be fading.
All of which could make for a busy 48-hours – it may well prove to be a bit like the proverbial buses at Carrow Road, that after waiting so long for one to come along, three – if not potentially four – come at once.
Last night, however, and as things stood then, Roeder was voicing his impatience; keen to move things on; get people in and on the plane to Sweden.
“I'm pretty confident,” was the manager's verdict last night when quizzed as to whether he might have a fresh face or two on board for the pre-season tour to Scandinavia.
“I think it'll be a busy couple of days – and it'll continue right up until the last week before the season starts and we go to Coventry.”
It had, he admitted, been hard work. Luton's collapse into administration and the crisis that continues to unfold there will not have helped – other than to persuade Bell that he really didn't want to start the new campaign 30 points adrift at the foot of League One.
“It has been slow going, I have to say,” said Roeder. “Some of the transfers that will happen in the next week or so have been on-going for five, six weeks.
“Quite ridiculous really – but it's the nature of the business now. I want them in for pre-season – we've got a new fitness regime, a new way of getting players fit and the players are responding well to that.
“And players that I'm bringing in I don't want them to be at their current clubs any longer than they have to be – I want them to work to our regime of physical fitness.”
Last night's 8-1 stroll against Gorleston did at least feature one new face – ex-Orient keeper Stuart Nelson who replaced David Marshall for the second period.
“We're having a look at him; he's not done himself any harm in training; decent man – which is always important to me,” said Roeder, with Nelson available on a free after ending his Brisbane Road connections this summer. He is now expected to travel to Sweden to give Roeder the chance to assess his abilities under rather more testing conditions.
“Of course, he was no more than a spectator tonight – which I would have expected.”
It was something of a stroll – particularly once the Canaries found themselves 2-0 up within the first three minutes.
“It was a good training session for us,” said the City boss. “And at times Gorleston did very well. But for us that was a work-out that we needed.”
The star of the second-half was certainly Hoolahan who took just three minutes to win a penalty before showing just how much his toes can twinkle as he walked No8 into an empty net.
“I think we got just a tiny glimpse of what Hoolahan is all about and I think the fans are going to be really excited about watching him play this year.”
He disappeared four minutes from the end with “a little bit of a tight thigh”; similar minor niggles also ruled out Messrs Cureton, Fotheringham and Drury. Lee Croft was also unused.
“With the squad so small at the moment, we can't take chances with any of our senior players,” Roeder added.