City boss Glenn Roeder has pencilled in a potential debut date of September 13 and Plymouth (a) for the forgotten man of Norwich's frantic transfer summer – ex-Luton winger David Bell.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined with a fractured ankle since making his reported ?600,000 switch from Kenilworth Road last month and this morning Roeder revealed that his start date is edging ever closer.
“A couple more weeks – he's doing fine,” was Roeder's verdict at Colney this morning, as his most expensive signing of the summer begins to pick up the pace of his training and test out that fast-healing ankle.
“He's doing as we expected and not had a set-back – which is important. And probably [we'll be looking] for him to comeback into training with us not this coming Monday, but the Monday after.”
That would then coincide with the start of the two-week international break for England's World Cup opener with the delight of an away-day at Home Park looming thereafter.
“That's a realistic target,” said Roeder.
All of which will be music to the ears of the player himself after a thoroughly miserable start to his new Canary career.
“It's been a bit of a nightmare for me, to be honest,” Bell admitted, speaking to the Press for almost the first time since that summer switch.
“For any footballer, getting injured in pre-season is the worst time to get injured because then you're just playing catch-up; I had a jab last week and, hopefully, I'll be back in training next week.”
The right-sided attacking midfielder is clearly odds-on to give the luckless Lee Croft a run for his money. For now, however, all he can do is watch Norwich's stuttering start to the new campaign unfold without him. And explain to the waiting City support just what they have been missing over the last month.
“I'm definitely an attacking midfielder – I like to get the ball at my feet and get at people. And get shots off. Get my crosses in. Just create chances and score a few goals myself.”
The fact that he has yet to play a competitive game this summer should be borne in mind, however. No overnight miracles.
“I came back training for the first week and a half and then got a kick in training. And that's when I got the fracture and I've been out now for five weeks. I went for an ultra-sound scan the other day and the bone's healed fine; I had an injection just to settle the tendons down so hopefully that's done the trick,” said Bell, resolutely looking forward now after his stalled start to his new life in Norfolk.
“Hopefully the major weeks are behind me now and I can get a couple of weeks training and then be back in amongst it,” he said, clearly impatient to be given the green light by new Canary physio Simon Spencer.
“I can't wait to get going – it's just been frustrating, but I'm trying to keep my chin up now and look forward. Hopefully, to be training next week and get in amongst the fold then.”
He is, he says, a naturally fit lad and will not require the same kind of patience that, say, a Shola Ameobi might need.
“I've just got to get a good week's training under my belt and then, maybe, a couple of reserve games and ust try and get some 90 minutes under my belt. And then it's the manager's decision – when he thinks I'm ready to come back in.”
Like everyone else, he has been left thoroughly frustrated by the start of the 08-09 season – bits and bobs look OK; in periods, City click nicely into gear. But where – and when – it matters; deep in the heart of the opposition penalty area, the Canaries have fallen way short of expectations.
“I've only seen the home game,” Bell admitted. “But certainly against Blackpool I felt we dominated the game.
“If we'd have scored early it could have been three or four-nil. It's not like we're playing bad football; we're playing good football. We just need to put the ball in the back of the net. And I'm sure we will do.
“The main thing is that we're creating the chances; if we weren't creating the chances, then it's a little bit worrying. But the boys are playing really, really well and I'm just looking now to try and get fit and be part of that.”
As he looks back over the shoulder at the mess that he left behind, the fact that there is half a Canary team tring to claw back that 30-point deduction is one of the smaller ironies this summer – particularly given that both Rossi Jarvis and Chris Martin have already been on the scoresheet. Paul McVeigh and the on-loan Michael Spillane are also in the Hatters mix.
“It's going to be very difficult for them,” he admitted. “I think it's an incredibly harsh punishment and if they do pull it off – and it'll be a massive task – I think it'll be one of the biggest sporting achievements ever. Minus 30 points is unheard of – in any sport. And I really, really do hope that they pull out of it.”