City's goal-scoring hero Darel Russell has revealed that his heart still belongs to central midfield – even if Glenn Roeder's head is beginning to tell him to start the Canary favourite at centre-forward at Cardiff next week.
Much, of course, can happen in between. The City manager could – finally – land his prized target man; though as of Friday there appeared to be little or no movement on that front.
Roeder could even hand 36-year-old Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink a short-term contract after the former Chelsea ace – currently a free agent after a bitter summer fall-out with the Bluebirds – was spotted in the directors box at Carrow Road for yesterday's 1-1 draw with likely strugglers Blackpool.
If neither happen then the Canary boss faces a big decision – whether or not to reward the only man in a yellow shirt currently boasting a decent eye for goal with a start at Ninian Park next weekend.
And all at the expense of one of his mis-firing strikers. Or if not up-front, then at the expense of one of his two centre-midfielders…
“It's nice to be in that vein of form at this minute in time,” said Russell, after his 74th minute, close-range header wiped out Ben Burgess' 55th minute penalty in yesterday's Carrow Road opener.
After bagging the two against Colchester United in City's final pre-season friendly and slamming a 25-yarder against a post at the stadium:mk in mid-week, it was little surprise to find Russell's second-half introduction winning firm approval from the home faithful.
The fact that he then underlined his rich goal-scoring form with that forceful header following a looping knock-back from Dejan Stefanovic merely keeps the one-time City Youth product knocking firmly on the manager's door. For that's the way that he likes to do his talking these days – on the pitch. Making an impact; changing a game.
Was he getting frustrated, watching games from the sidelines?
“Most definitely – who wouldn't be?” said Russell. “Even when I was suspended last year and not playing, it drives me crazy. I hate watching football, because it means that I'm not out there and playing – I just enjoy being out there and on the pitch.
“And I want to be out there starting – that's my main aim. But everybody wants to be out there – to try and do their best and to help to push the team forward.”
In that same Canary cause, would Russell step into the centre-forward breach and try to take some of the physical load off the Jamie Curetons and the Arturo Lupolis?
“If I had to start [there], it's not a problem for me,” he said. “I think I can do a job, but I don't want to be judged as a forward.
“I'm trying to stake a claim for my position – or the position I favour,” he added. That position is, of course, central midfield. For now, however, Roeder has decided that new-boy Sammy Clingan and skipper Mark Fotheringham have that gig to themselves. For Russell, that's where the action is; that's where he loves to play his game – right on centre stage.
It is, he said, the reason why he abandoned his teenage career as a striker – to see more of the ball; to be in the heart of the action.
“The reason that I switched to midfield was because I got bored – particularly at times when the game's not going for you. I like to be in the middle of the game where I'm involved – whether it be defending or attacking.
“And that's why I enjoy playing centre-midfield; it more from an enjoyment factor.”
What is clear from his walk-on parts of late is that Russell is in the kind of form that changes games; he makes a difference. Not just goals-wise as the rest of his team-mates struggle to match his courage and conviction in the final third, but the energy he also adds to the party. Even his booking for an unnecessary tussle with the Blackpool keeper on Saturday was the sign of a player willing to ruffle feathers; of a player swift to make an impression on proceedings.
Having spoken on Tuesday night about the need for players to have that mental strength to have a pop, his opening goal of the season was all about matching strength of mind with strength of purpose – and not worrying who got hurt in the process of forcing that ball aross the line.
“It was there for me and I've seen it,” said Russell, as he waited for Stefanovic's far post header to drop. Time enough to create a little room for himself.
“Unfortunately I've left a little bit of an elbow in the back of the guy's head when I've put it in, but I had to protect myself.
“But if I'm seeing those opportunities I'm going to try and put them in like everybody else – they've got to just want to put that ball in the back of the net. And be confident of doing it.”
Cureton, Lupoli and Seasiders old-boy Wes Hoolahan were the ones to miss out this weekend as three more, eminently presentable chances went AWOL. Lupoli's glaring miss after Cureton's own mis-hit shot squirmed its way to the unmarked Italian on the half-hour mark might have been ruled offside anyway, but with the goal gaping wide open it was a miss that summed up Norwich's start to the season.
“Lucky for me, things have fallen well for me over the last few weeks in terms of being in the right positions and actually getting them into the back of the net, so if this can continue for the rest of the season, I'd be really pleased.
“I've had aims this season to try and get myself to ten goals – and I've got nine more to go. And, hopefully, we can try and get to that figure sooner rather than later.”
In the meantime it might help to calm everyone's nerves if Russell could just spread a little of that penalty box conviction around.
“Hopefully [I can],” he said. “I mean I consider myself to be that type of person.
“That hopefully my running tries to rub off on other people and I felt that when I came on today; I tried to put as much effort and injection into the game and I think a lotof the lads responded and we moved forward and looked good in that last half-hour.”
That all said, however, Russell was big enough to admit that it was two points dropped – certanly when viewed from three o'clock. From an hour later it might have been one saved, but there is little doubt that Blackpool (h) was one of the 'banker' games of City's opening schedule.
Three points against the Seasiders and one against Birmingham City in Norwich's next home game would be a fair return; now the Canaries have to do it the hard way and try to prise all three points out of the Blues.
“Two points dropped? I think so – most definitely from before the game. We were coming out here to get the three points. We were favourites for the game and these are the teams that we would consider that we have to beat.
“But being 1-0 down with however long left on the clock, now that's probably a point gained.”