City boss Glenn Roeder was this afternoon counting the cost of the “perfect result” following Saturday's first home win of the season against Sheffield United.
First to go was Dejan Stefanovic – out before kick-off with a badly-bruised calf.
Next went Matty Pattison out for “[hopefully] no more than a couple of weeks” after tweaking his hamstring in the opening exchanges of the Blades clash.
Replaced by Arturo Lupoli as Darel Russell once again reverted back to his preferred, centre-midfield role, the on-loan Italian fared little better as he felt his own hamstring tighten and was duly replaced by Jamie Cureton.
Add Stefanovic, Pattison and Lupoli to the longer term injuries that are currently sidelining John Kennedy (ankle), Sammy Clingan (shoulder), Gary Doherty (ankle) and David Bell (ankle) and Roeder's options for that trip to Oakwell this Saturday are looking thin on the ground.
It also complicates loan matters further when both his foreign-based loans are out of the picture – with Elliot Omosuzi, Jonathan Grounds, Ryan Bertrand and Antoine Sibierski all-but certain to start, he can now find no room at the inn for both Omar Koroma and Troy Archibald-Henville. One has to miss out.
With no extra defensive cover, the on-loan Spurs centre-half already looks favourite to get the nod; leaving the attacking pace of 'OJ' the victim of that five loan only ruling.
As welcome as Saturday's first home win was, it clearly came at a higher price than Roeder would have wished to pay.
“For me in professional football that's almost a perfect result – clean sheet, score a goal, win 1-0, thank you very much…” he told Radio Norfolk afterwards, as Lee Croft's 92nd minute strike gave the Blades no time to reply. Bang, job done. And all against one of the sides that most expect to figure large in the promotion shake-up cme next May.
“I think it's a real scalp for us to beat these,” said Roeder, about to reveal the price of City's welcome ascent into the top half of the table.
“We've picked up a couple of injuries there which I don't like,” he said.
“Matty Pattison has done so well of late and has deservedly been in the starting line-up these past few weeks has picked up a hamstring [strain].
“We hope it's not too serious – no more than a couple of weeks – but obviously makes him a doubt for next week.
“And even more unfortunately Arturo Lupoli has come on as a sub, but during the period that hewas on, his right hamstring tightened up. We don't think that he's done serious damage and there's a chance that he'll be OK for next week – but there's only a chance he's going to be OK for next week.
“We're getting one or two too many injuries at the moment and I don't like that.”
Stefanovic is, however, expected to return. And as well as the two on-loan youngsters did in their first outing together, the commanding 34-year-old Serb wouldbe expected to start again come the trip to Barnsley.
That then requires Roeder to find a new home for Omosuzi – either on the bench or at the expense of Jon Otsemobor who marked his return to front-line duty with the sponsors' man of the match bubbly.
Or else, the manager goes for a spot of right-foot left-foot balance at the heart of his defence and drops Jonathan Grounds back to the bench. Again, a tough decision given the manner in which the on-loan Middlesbrough defender took to his new surroundings. Or else he bides his time, wraps Stefanovic's calf in cotton wool and gives the Omosuzi-Grounds combo a second chance to shine.
They have, after all, got Norwich's first clean sheet of the season to show for their efforts this weekend – albeit helped enormously by David Marshall's heroics.
“We didn't have time to have a practice with them, but it just shows you – if you're a good enough player, it makes no difference,” said Roeder, as he gave his verdict on that new-look centre-half pairing.
“You see the same things, you work as a pairing and you work well. And I thought Jonathan Grounds was outstanding and I thought Elliot [Omosuzi] was outstanding as well.
“For two very young players to play in central defence, they marshalled that defence really, really well and I couldn't be more pleased for them.”
Further forward and with Bell still a week at least away from a start, Croft should have cemented his place in Roeder's Oakwell thinking; Russell and Mark Fotheringham are the obvious central pairing with Wes Hoolahan due a return on the left.
Up front and with the whole OJ loan situation playing on his mind, Roeder would appear to have little or no option but to pair Cureton with Sibierski. Unless Archibald-Henville was the one spare loan to miss out.