City boss Glenn Roeder tonight feared what tomorrow might be bring as on-loan defender John Kennedy hobbled out of this evening's 1-0 home defeat by Queen's Park Rangers with a worrying ankle injury.
Kennedy's exit merely summed up a bitterly frustrating night for all concerned at Carrow Road as the Canaries all but took two steps back following Saturday's one-step forward with that first win of the season away at Plymouth Argyle.
Even the first-half dismissal of Matthew Connolly for two rash challenges – the first on Arturo Lupoli, the second on Matty Pattison – failed to help Norwich's cause.
Rangers were just too organised, too strong and – on the night – too good for City to prise apart. The closest they came was a 92nd minute far post header from Antoine Sibierski that arced just inches wide of the far upright.
Otherwise, there was a lot of huffing and puffing, but little for Rangers keeper Radek Cerny to do but to watch as Damion Stewart, Mikele Leigertwood and summer transfer target Kaspars Gorkss comfortably blunted attack after attack.
At the other end, Martin Rowlands thrice-taken free-kick proved enough to give Rangers the points and leave Roeder back at the drawing board ahead of this weekend's home clash with Sheffield United – and all, potentially, without Kennedy on centre stage.
“It doesn't look good at the moment,” was Roeder's verdict on Kennedy's injury. It didn't look at all good at the time as he was helped off the pitch slung between City physio and fitness coach.
The only saving grace – if saving grace it is – was that it didn't involve the on-loan Celtic star's twice-rebuilt knee. This one was pure ankle.
“I don't want to jump to any conclusions either – and it's only a few hours since the game has finished – but his ankle is very sore. And I have to say, he was one of the plusses.”
Which hopefully the watching George Burley noted. The Scotland boss – sat in the directors' box alongside his ex-Saints pal John Gorman – will have known everything about David Marshall; he might have wanted to take a look at Mark Fotheringham. But without too many Tartan troops in Iain Dowie's QPR side, it must have been Kennedy that brought Burley to Norfolk.
And for the first hour he must have been delighted to see such a one-time international prospect back at his commanding best – only for fate to once again so cruelly intervene.
“He was the one that did a lot of covering in the first 15 minutes when others looked shaky,” said Roeder. “He swept up behind them and was doing a brilliant job.”
The manager's frustrations were plain; as – no doubt – will be the player's after his long and lonely four years all but out of the game.
“Had he not had this horrific injury when he was young at Celtic, AC Milan were about to bid for him – and I believe that was true. He's one hell of a player. And he didn't deserve to get injured tonight. If you see the scars in and around the knee, he's lucky to be walking let alone playing.
“But he has and we'll get him better as soon as we can. And we'll get him back in the team.”
And, hopefully, Burley will have seen enough to give Kennedy his second chance of an international career.
“I don't know what George Burley was doing here tonight – there's a chance [he was looking at Kennedy].
“But if George Burley asked my opinion I'd say to George: 'Have no hesitation, put him in your squad…' If there's better central defenders in Scotland than John Kennedy, I've yet to see one.”
As for Roeder's verdict on the rest of the night's proceedins, they made for equally down-beat reading. From the very start, the manager sensed an off-colour night. And, boy, did he get one.
“You know what summed up the night? In the first minute Arturo Lupoli has at least a half chance to hit the target with a shot and he puts it over the stand… That summed up the night,” said the City chief, the post-Plymouth bubble well and truly burst.
“I don't feel QPR particularly deserved to win the game; they didn't do enough to win the game in terms of general play,” added Roeder, well aware of the attributes that Iain Dowie's team did bring to the party.
“Physically very powerful; defended very well. But again we played nowhere near how we've played this year. And in normal circumstances it probably would have been a horrible, scrappy 0-0, but we've lost the game.”
Nor did he buy into the old adage about it always being harder against ten men.
“Even when it's 11 versus 11 and you're attacking most teams have two banks of four that you've got to break down. Eight players behind the ball,” he said.
“And they leave two-up. When you have a player sent off, you only leave one up. But the scenario is that you've still got eight players to play against. The fact that they ae one-down makes no difference whatsoever.
“And QPR did that very well; give them credit on that. They're a very powerful team; a physically strong team – and I'm disappointed that we didn't play well enough to break them down.”
No cut, little thrust. There was a familiar story to be had as Lupoli disappeared at the break and Darel Russell briefly found himself partnering Sibierski only for Jamie Cureton to relieve him of that role. Try whatever combination he might, City barely ruffled a Rangers feather.
“The whole of the second-half, we were camped in their half. But we produced very little in terms of goal-scoring opportunities. We were too sow in our build-up; not creative enough and we had too many very, very average performances,” said Roeder simply.
“We had one or two that did well, but generally speaking if you're going to win a game of football you need everyone to play well. Sometimes you can win carrying one or two average performances, but we're looking at seven or eight tonight.”