City boss Glenn Roeder has dropped a big hint that Rosenborg's Steffen Iversen might not be the only iron in his target man fire as he ran over the lessons of yesterday's dramatic 2-2 draw at Ninian Park.
The Canaries were staring yet another blank Saturday in the face after Ross McCormack's double put the Bluebirds firmly in the driving seat with less than 15 minutes of normal time remaining.
Given the game had already boasted a missed penalty from Jamie Cureton and had seen David Marshall have barely a save to make, the contest was following an all-too familiar script for the 400-odd travelling Canary fans – right up to the moment that second-half substitute Arturo Lupoli raced to the nearest phone booth and returned in full 'Superman!' costume.
Two goals in five minutes then followed from the 21-year-old, on-loan Italian – the second a wonderful, stooping header from a good 16-yards out – and whilst it might have need an excellent goal-line clearance from Matty Pattison to confirm City's first away point of the new campaign, the Canaries could travel home to Norfolk with a welcome spring in their step.
They remain, however, a striker light – as Roeder, unprompted, was swift to acknowledge afterwards.
“I still feel we are missing one big piece of the jigsaw,” said the City chief. “And that's that target man.
“I'm just having problems extracting one or two players that are target men from their clubs at the moment.”
The fact that Roeder used the term “one or two” will raise hopes that he is not putting all his eggs in the Iversen basket with his Norwegian employers seemingly determined to hang on to their prized asset until the end of their season later this autumn with the one-time Spurs striker having already bagged eight goals from his 14 starts this season.
The Trondheim outfit also have a big UEFA Cup date in their diary this Thursday – the second leg of their clash with Swedish neighbours Djurgaarden.
Though they lost the first leg 2-1, that away goal could yet prove decisive as Rosenborg – Norway's first-ever winners of the much-maligned InterToto Cup via a 2-1 aggregate win over NAC Breda earlier this summer – look to progress further in the UEFA Cup proper. And all with local-boy Iversen up front.
Bury's Andy Bishop is another name that has, occasionally, done the rounds as the Canaries desperately look for someone of a six-foot lus ilk to lend a bit of physical 'Ooomph!' to their forward play.
The timely return of Lupoli's predatory instincts at least helped ease Roeder's on-going transfer frustrations. His second – from a decent Lee Croft cross – was one for the scrap-book. Not quite Ched Evans' master-blast of Ninian Park 2007-2008 fame, but still a delicate little gem as he deftly guided the ball inside Tom Heaton's right-hand upright for a dramatic equaliser.
“The second goal especially pleased me,” said the City chief. “I think heading has become a lost art in the modern game, but he angled that ball away really, really well.”
It was just the tonic the young Italian needed after Roeder had noted a few doubts starting to creep in – particularly after last weekend's glaring miss at home to Blackpool.
“He'd had a number of chances in the first few games, but unfortunately missed them. And I just thought that this week in training, he was just slightly getting his head down,” said Roeder, who handed Darel Russell the second striker's role in his stead.
“I wanted to use him as an impact player – if you want – during the second-half,” said Roeder, unlikely to have second guessed exactly the level of impact Lupoli was about to have on proceedings.
“It's panned out perfectly for Arturo today because I'm sure he'll gain huge confidence from scoring those two goals,” said the City chief, already pondering his options ahead of next weekend's visit of early pace-setters Birmingham City to Carrow Road. “We'll see how he trains this week because we have a great game against Birmingham City next weekend and I'm sure he'll want to start – rather than be on the bench.”
The danger is, of course, to over-look the fact that Lupoli is still just 21; there will be a rawness to his game that a lost year on loan at Serie B Treviso will have done little to address.
“He is such a young player still,” said Roeder, quizzed as to whether Lupoli could return to the heights he showed as a 17-year-old – the ones that persuaded Arsene Wenger to whip him utof Italian youth football as a teenager; the ones that persuaded the Viola to offer him a lucrative five-year deal once his original Gunners contract ended last summer.
“He's unbelievably enthusiastic – he gives everything when he's playing. And you can see that by the energy he puts in closing defenders down. The motivation is there; I believe the ability is there if we can just get it out of him on a regular basis. So I'm looking forward to working with him.”
With Pattison havig one shot cleared off the Cardiff line and Lupoli himself amost bagging a hat-trick before the end, the wind was firmly in the visitors sails come the death. It might yet, just, signal an early turning point in Norwich's season, though the Norfolk club are past masters at the art of delivering false dawns.
“I have to say the boys deserve a pat on the back for the way that they kept going,” said the City chief. “There's lots of teams – 77 minutes, two down – who would have thrown the towel in. And that was the last thing we did; we kept chasing; kept putting Cardiff under pressure. And the one thing that we are this year – and this will get even better – we are super-fit.
“And if there was another goal scored, I'd have fancied us to score it. But with 15 minutes to go – not being a greedy person – we have to settle for a point. I didn't think we deserved to be 2-0 down on the balance of play, but we were – and we needed to do something about it. And, thankfully, Arturo Lupoli did something about it.”