Glenn Roeder's best-laid summer plans today rest on the desks of three people – the international clearances officers of the Scottish FA, the Italian FA and the Gambian FA.
But for those three gentlemen, the Canaries could be fielding three, bright new stars in tomorrow's final dress rehearsal for the 2008-2009 season – Arturo Lupoli, John Kennedy and 18-year-old on-loan Portsmouth starlet Omar alieu Koroma.
For the City chief this afternoon revealed that Harry Redknapp's 'beautiful mover' was, indeed, now in Norfolk having completed a one-year loan switch to Carrow Road.
The last piece of paper required was that stamped by the Gambian FA – a piece of paper from the tiny, West African state that would need to come via Fratton Park in time for 'OJ' to make his Canary debut against the visiting Us tomorrow afternoon.
“We're just waiting for him to get clearance, but he's all signed up,” said Roeder, speaking to the Press at Colney this lunchtime. “I hope that comes through – that's important.”
As that clearance is part of Portsmouth's own, full-time transfer deal with Koroma's home club, The Hawks, the conversations with the Gambian FA are not Norwich's to have. Roeder's conversations with his old, West Ham pal Harry Redknapp have already borne considerable fruit in the shape of the raw, athletic talent that 'OJ' is about to bring to City's Championship thinking.
“We keep get promised that this international clearance will come – and it's a bit frustrating that it hasn't,” said Roeder, clearly delighted to be able to add such a prospect to the Colney mix.
“I'm very pleased,” he said. “He's 18 – and looks very, very lively. And in the couple of 11 v 11s we've had, he's knocked the ball into the back of the net a couple of times. So he looks well above average – well above – for an 18-year-old. And I'm very pleased that Harry Redknapp has allowed him to come to us.”
For Norwich weren't the only show in town, either.
“We've watched him in a couple of pre-season friendlies – and so had other Championship clubs. And everyone was on the phone trying to take him and we've had to beat three or four other Championship clubs who wanted to take him.
“But, fortunately, Harry and I know eachother and he's happy for him to come here. He knows the football club; he knows me; he knows he'll play games for us.”
Redknapp, of course, would have a little knowledge of ex-City boss Peter Grant from that whole West Ham thing, but not like he knows Roeder. It is a deal that is unlikely to have ever happened under his luckless predecessor – and, therein, may lie a huge difference in City's prospects this season. It's never what you know, but who…
“He's an exciting young talent,” said Roeder. “He's 18 – and supporters are going to have to be patient with him. Like all 18-year-olds, he'll make a few mistakes.
“But then so do 28-year-olds; 38-year-olds. They make mistakes and I've always been a manager that plays young players wherever I've been. Gillingham, Watford, West Ham, Newcastle… I've always liked giving young players an opportunity. There's a rawness and a hunger about their play. And 'OJ' has shown that in the small amount of time that we've had him on the practice ground.
“[We've seen] how energetic he is; he's 18; he's got a nice, athletic frame. You wouldn't call him heavy – he's not target man.”
On that subject Roeder was swift to knock well-established rumour on the head – that the Canaries were in the chase for Leicester's 32-year-old striker Steve Howard. More than in the chase, they had had a bid rejected.
“Whoever's put that on their website has got it wrong,” said the City, with Foxes owner Milan Mandaric in the mood to get shot of Howard's big, fat wage bill off the club's League One books.
Back in Norfolk and Roeder faced similar paperwork delays re Lupoli and Kennedy.
“Lupoli wasn't involved the other night and he won't be involved tomorrow,” said Roeder, his patience starting to wear thin with the Italian footballing authorities after the one-time Gunners teenager was forced to sit out the 5-1 mauling by Premiership Spurs. A run out against League One Colchester this weekend looks equally slim, it appears.
“And he won't be involved tomorrow becuase of international clearance – unless it comes through from the Italian FA by five o'clock he won't be able to play, unfortunately.
“And, obviously, we'll be pulling out all the stops to try and make sure that he's alright for next week and Coventry. Apparently it's not that unusual for it to take this long,” added Roeder, with the 21-year-old Fiorentina striker's arrival on loan being actually announced on the final day of City's pre-season tour to Sweden – now some nine days distant.
“I don't want to put the emphasis on the Italian FA, but apparently not…”
Likewise the Scottish FA – albeit Kennedy's half-season long switch only officially went through today. That was his loan period goes right through to January 1 and the opening of the transfer window; no awkward little periods 'back home' in December – as the Canaries discovered to their cost with Birmingham centre-half Martin Taylor.
“We officially signed him today,” revealed Roeder. “So he can be here until the end of December; first day of January. Because, again, with international loans they can only be whole months. So we sign him on the first of August we can take him right through to the end of December – and we have a game on the 28th.
“But we're not expecting the Scottish FA to hold that up today, so we think he should be able to play tomorrow.”
The Canary chief had one, final signing to announce – trial keeper Stuart Nelson signed a one-year deal to be the Marshall's deputy yesterday. Much, you suspect, to the disappointment of one young man in deepest Hungary who had told the world that he, too, was bound for a goalkeeping career at Carrow Road.
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