City boss Glenn Roeder this morning called on the Canary faithful to back their boys like never before and step into that glaring breach at centre-half for tomorrow's home clash with Derby County.
For with Dejan Stefanovic sidelined for the next two games after seeing red at St Mary's in mid-week, Jonathan Grounds back at Middlesbrough to answer Gareth Southgate's own injury crisis and both John Kennedy and Gary Doherty at least a fortnight away from a return, so the Canaries have a very large hole at the heart of their defence.
And whilst Roeder was giving absolutely no clues away as to who might be asked to fill that gap, he was clearly hoping that the '12th man' might come to Norwich's rescue as they looked to haul themselves away from 19th spot ahead of the forthcoming two-week international break.
“I think they'll recognise the problems that we have with injuries in the obvious position which is central defence – and with Stefanovic suspended,” said Roeder this morning, as the Norfolk side look to shake Tuesday night's 2-0 reverse at St Mary's out of their system.
“And I think they will recognise that and I'd like to think that tomorrow they'll get behind us more that they normally do.”
It is certainly a big game – bigger than every other 'big game' in the Championship. For with two weeks to ponder how far the Canaries have come in the last 12 months, it would be a serious bonus if this latest batch of games could end on a high.
City might even find themselves a new hero if Sammy Clingan stepped out of the treatment room, into the nearest phone booth and returned to Roeder's starting plans with a Superman effort as a stand-in centre-half.
The on-loan Troy Archibald-Henville is one option to partner Elliot Omosuzi; Adam Drury another. For now, however, the smart money is on Clingan answering the manager's call. Whether he will then book himself a place in Nigel Worthington's World Cup plans is for another day, said Roeder.
Right now he needs a body and Clingan's return from that shoulder injury could have an excellent sense of timing.
“He's got a good chance of being fit,” said the City chief, as the Northern Ireland international confounds the medics with the swiftness of his recovery from the nasty injury sustained in his country's last World Cup adventure.
“It looks like he's recovered quicker than we thought. Whether he's recovered enough in time for tomorrow we'll assess him this morning. But he has got a good chance of being involved.”
Whether that would be at centre-half was the big question; at which point the shutters came down. The 24-year-old was to be found there in pre-season and as an anchor midfield man by trade, stepping back 20-yards to partner Omosuzi ought to be a possible. Not that Roeder was saying.
“I ain't telling anyone anything – why do we want to help Derby County? We've got our own problems tomorrow and we're going to need our own supporters tomorrow probably more than any time this year tomorrow for this game.
“Because of the situation that we've got at central defence. We can't hide that from Paul Jewell. He knows that Kennedy's out; he knows that Stefanovic is suspended; he knows that Grounds has gone back; he knows Doherty's injured. Can't hide that – but I'm not telling him anything else.”
The only chink in Clingan's armour at centre-half is his lack of inches. But needs must…
“All this situation creates – and again we can't hide it from anyone – is that we're going to lack height in the centre of the defence. But often the little man can beat the big man. That's the beauty of football.”
Which, in itself, would appear to rule out handing the six-foot plus Archibald-Henville a start. The Canary boss had, in fairness, already suggested that the teenager may still be too 'raw' for the task ahead.
“We're just concerned about getting ourselves into the best shape we can for this game – highly motivated to attack this game; in a positive frame of mind. Which we will do,” said Roeder, all but ruling out Matty Pattison's involvement this weekend as he looks to shrug off that lingering hamstring strain.
“We've got the same scenario we had before the Barnsley game,” he said. “He's probably not quite 100% fit. And now we've got this opportunity with the two-week break to get him 100% fit for Bristol.”
Up the other end of the pitch and Roeder can at least unleash new – and his ninth – loan signing Leroy Lita on the Rams. He was due to have his first full training session today. But having started a Carling Cup clash for the Royals last month, there is no reason to suspect that the one-time England Under-21 international isn't fit and raring to go.
“I know from my sources at Reading that he's fully fit and can't wait to get going,” said the Championship's uncrowned king of the loan market. “It's a great oppportunity for him to come and score us a few goals.”