City boss Glenn Roeder tonight remained confident that the last – and biggest – piece in his summer jigsaw would be in place in time for next week's Championship kick-off.
Ruling out any interest in Leicester City's 32-year-old target man Steve Howard, Roeder insisted that he still had one or two, six-foot plus irons in the fire.
One needs to bear fruit if the Canaries aren't to go into battle with a continental-style attacking line-up that would struggle to befit the big boys league that is the English Championship.
“We have three similar forwards at the moment,” the Canary chief admitted at Colney this afternoon – fresh from revealing that, Gambian FA permitting, he had now bolted on 18-year-old Omar alieu Koroma into his plans for 2008-2009.
Signed on loan for a year from his old Hammers pal Harry Redknapp, the teenage Gambian is more 'beautifual mover' than battering ram – ditto Jamie Cureton and Arturo Lupoli. Peas, all three, from the same pod.
“In European football you could get away with it,” said Roeder, who this week dropped another footballing small 'un into the hole behind Cureton in the shape of Wes Hoolahan.
“As much as you want to play good football and pass the ball through the midfield and into the front parts of the team, in my opinion in English football you still need a big target man.
“And we've got our eye on one or two – it's just proving difficult [to get them],” said Roeder, knocking the Howard link firmly into the long grass.
“And one of them is not Steve Howard. Whoever wrote that on whichever website is wrong.”
The $64 million dollar question, therefore, remains. If Roeder's eyes have not set on Howard, where have his thoughts turned to? Shola Ameobi remains stuck in Newcastle reserves; likewise Grzegorz Rasiak – a reported January transfer window target – has returned to cash-strapped Southampton from his brief loan spell at Bolton last season. He has gone nowhere. Nor have his wages.
The City chief was giving away few clues – other than be won't be asking a kid to do a man's job in that pivotal role.
Can he dig one out before that trip to the Ricoh in eight days time?
“Yes – definitely,” he said. “And I'd like to think that by the tme the window closes we will have three more players here. One of which will be a target man.
“And the target man I'd like to be an experienced striker; the other two positions – and the age of those other two players, I'll let you guess that because if I tell you it gives you nothing to write about…”
In the spirit of Roeder's thoughts, you still suspect that he could prise Kieran Gibbs out of Arsenal for a second tour of duty – a task probably made that much easier by the fact that his big England Under-19 pal Ryan Bertrand is already in the building, albeit with a slight knee strain that will keep him out of tomorrow's U's game.
The City boss has already suggested that Gary Doherty's long-term ankle knock will also find him scouring the market for further cover at centre-half. Bag another three and Roeder will make it a remarkable 13 for the summer after ex-Brentford and Orient keeper Stuart Nelson agreed a one-year deal yesterday.
Given the fears that the Canaries would go into the new campaign short in every position, Roeder's recruitment policies have been quietly impressive. There's barely a gap now in his backroom staff now either.
“He [Nelson] was Leyton Orient's goalkeeper; he's played a lot of football for Leyton Orient and Brentford; he's impressed us with his attitude; his work ethic.
“We think he's actually improved this pre-season; he thinks he's improved this pre-season,” added the City boss, offering an early pat on the back for one of this summer's new arrivals – goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright.
“He's doing a great job – and I think we're going to see a difference in Marshy's [Marshall] play as well. In his kicking; in his talking.
“He was a very quiet goalkeeper – which was unusual. But he's starting to organise his back four; he's talking throughout the game; his kicking has improved a lot this pre-season.
“And it was important that we got a good goalkeeping coach in because it's important that the two youngsters that we've got – Declan Rudd and Jed Steer – that they get well coached. And having watched Tommy this past month or more coach the keepers, I'm hugely impressed.”