City boss Glenn Roeder has set his strikers a target of “15, 16 goals” this season on the day that his long-time strike target Shola Ameobi took another large step towards joining Ipswich Town.
The 26-year-old has, according to Town's own official website, now completed his medical. And with a fee in the region of ?2.5 million having long been agreed between the Portman Road side and Roeder's former employers on Tyneside, all that is left is for Ameobi to agree personal terms.
Once that is done then a man that Roeder himself said would 'blitz' the Championship will be a Town player. And City's quest to bolt a similar physical presence 'up top' will continue – with little or no immediate sign of it being anywhere nearer to fruition.
“We have agreed a fee with Newcastle for Shola and he spent yesterday at the club having a medical,” Town boss Jim Magilton told his official website this morning, who has been on the trail of the former England Under-21 international all summer.
“We've had a good chat and things are moving on. He will be with us again today and hopefully we can get it all tied up.”
Back north of the border and while Roeder may now have 36-year-old former Chelsea ace Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the building – Jimmy just wants to keep himself fit, was the line from the player's agent – the Canary boss remains desperate to find the big, target man of his strike dreams.
For now, however, the only member of his squad offering the required eye for goal is a midfielder, Darel Russell. He, of course, has yet to force his way into Roeder's Championship starting plans – despite having bagged all three of Norwich's goals in their last four outings.
With each strike – be it the two against Colchester United in the final pre-season friendly of the summer or Saturday's leveller against likely strugglers Blackpool – Russell demonstrated just the kind of courage and conviction that Roeder's current choice of strikers appear to lack.
Jamie Cureton, Arturo Lupoli and the teenage Omar Koroma have all seen big, big chances come and go; opportunities that any striker needs to bury if they are to hit Roeder's “bare requirement” of 15, 16 goals a season – let alone the 24 goals that the likes of a Kevin Phillips scored for West Bromwich Albion last time out.
Three games into the new campaign and his switch across the city to Blues has clearly had no ill effects after bagging his second goal in three outings this weekend. Few would bet against him rubbing further salt into Norwich's raw striker wounds when he arrives in Norfolk in 12 days time.
For now, however, and it Russell who is showing the Canaries how…
“I think he [Russell] showed everyone how to finish,” said Roeder speaking after Saturday's 1-1 draw with the Seasiders.
The Canary boss is now faced with a big selection headache ahead of this weekend's trip to South Wales – just what does he do now with his most prolific 'striker'? Does Russell earn his due reward and get a start? And if so, where?
Having set his own target of ten goals this term, Russell admitted his forceful, close range header was a case of 'one down, nine to go…' for Cureton, Lupoli and Co the challenge is clearly there… time to get one on the board.
“In this league, the bare requirement in a full season is 15, 16 goals. You need to be hitting 20; your strikers need to be hitting 20 goals apiece. But other players aroundthe team have got to chip in. And do threes and fours during the season,” said Roeder.
“So he not only sowed the strikers, he showed everyone else – that if you get yourself in the right place at the right time, you can nick a goal. But that was the least that we deserved.”
The killer moment, of course, arrived on the 30-minute mark when Matty Pattison's excellent through-ball sent Cureton scampering through on his own. It was a repeat of his summer opener against Spurs. Well, almost.
“Did I think it was a goal? After the way he took the goal against Tottenham – absolutely,” said Roeder, watching from on high in the directors box as events unfolded. “One touch; bend it in…”
Alas, Cureton's touch deserted him; ball topped horribly, it squirmed away to an offside Lupoli who – from no more than eight yards out – hooked his own shot horribly wide of an empty net.
“I've got the benefit of a TV screen in the directors box and there's a 15-second delay – and when I looked at it I couldn't believe the goalkeeper's position. He's come so far out of his goal; he's basically inviting Jamie just to bend it round him into an empty net.
“Why did Jamie do that? I don't know. He certanly didn't mean to find Arturo… who was yards offside. They don't do it on purpose, but it ain't half frustrating.”
A frustration that he shares with the Canary faithful – particularly for as long as his own striker search continues to draw a big, fat blank as Town's quest appears to be ending in success.
With less than a fortnight now before the summer transfer window slams shut, the clock is starting to tick. Even then, all might not be lost. Roeder could, in theory, go back into the loan market.
“I don't want to go in the loan market, but if I have to – I have to,” he said. “I would like to be able to sign a contracted player to us. And I know who that is, but at the moment the club is being particularly resolute in holding onto him.”
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