Mother Nature may yet help guide Glenn Roeder's hand over the next 36 hours as he ponders his options ahead of tomorrow night's trip to Southampton.
For after watching his Canary side slip back into the bottom half of the table following Saturday's 0-0 draw at Barnsley, so the City chief will have been in the mood for a change – long before this morning's latest injury bulletin from the Colney treatment room.
Fit to traval and, presumeably, start was Arturo Lupoli after his recent hamstring alarms; now doubtful was Matty Pattison after slightly aggravating his own hamstring strain in that sapping trip to Oakwell.
Lupoli in and stand-in striker Darel Russell then stays where he finished Saturday's contest alongside Mark Fotheringham… with two, successive clean sheets to their name, the back end of the team remains unchanged. That, at least, was the theory this morning as Roeder deals with the latest batch of tweaks and strains to hit his best-laid autumn plans.
“Pattison is a little bit tight in that hamstring again,” Roeder reported. “He hasn't damaged it any more than he did when he had to come off against Sheffield United. He hasn't gone back to square one, but it's tight this morning.
“It was tight coming back on the coach on Saturday and he's still aware of it this morning. So he's very much touch and go – if he doesn't make it, he should be OK for Saturday. But we don't want to do any more damage to it when he's out for a month. So we'll wait and see – he'll travel anyway.”
It was in that central midfield area that, said Roeder, this weekend's contest was won and lost. Or rather, drawn. That Norwich lost the midfield battle wasn't in question.
“It's the first time this year that for too long a period we were out-played in midfield,” he said, as the Tykes returning Brazilian Anderson de Silva and the Spaniard with the long-range eye for goal, Diego Leon, ruled the roost.
The fact that Anderson, in particular, weighs in at six-foot two-inches tall touches on one nagging fear about the 2008-2009 Canaries; they remain a relatively small side.
“We never really got to grips in midfield from the off; we were always chasing them,” the manager admitted. “And I have to say I thought they had a couple of excellent players playing in centre midfield. Both the boys in there were very, very good.”
The other point Roeder made was the fact that City might now be beginning to realise just what Sammy Clingan brings to the party – and why ex-Canary chief Nigel Worthington might be quite so keen to get the midfield anchor man back in his own World Cup plans.
The Northern Ireland squad is due to be announced today. Having watched Clingan ripped from his plans with that serious shoulder injury sustained on the last occasion he donned the green jersey, Roeder is loathe to let him out to play again.
There was a line in the sand being firmly drawn; that if Clingan doesn't make Saturday's home clash with Derby County he won't be going anywhere on international duty.
“I think over the last few games we've started to miss Sammy Clingan,” said Roeder, who may well wrap the former Forest man up in cotton wool this weekend and only unwrap him again for that away trip to Bristol City once Northern Ireland's World Cup fun and games are over. You still sense a collision course looming there – between Norwich managers past and present.
“We've missed his link play and his retaining possession for the team, but if he's not fit for Derby he's not fit to play for Northern Ireland,” said Roeder, already citing precedence. As in Worthington's own relationship with the Northern Ireland set-up when it came to the likes of Phil Mulryne and Paul McVeigh.
“Nigel Worthington is famous here for withdrawing his players from international duty. That is fact. And I'm sure he [Clingan] will be in the squad. There's no doubt about that. But whether he's fit to go is entirely a different matter.”
As for Lupoli, the 21-year-old appears back on the mend. With three goals to his name, he remains the Canaries most potent attacking weapon right now. But having had precious little by way of a pre-season as the Viola sorted out his future, the on-loan Fiorentina forward remains something of a fragile vessel.
“He should be available,” said the City chief. “He trained yesterday morning; he seemed fine.”
On-loan defender Jonathan Grounds came away with no more than bad bruising from a tackle that Roeder described as “a leg-breaker” while Antoine Sibierski looked as if he had gone “15 rounds with any boxer you'd like to name”. The big Frenchman is, however, up for the fray again tomorrow night.