Canary boss Glenn Roeder today ensured that City fans might have more than a passing interest in events at Carrow Road tonight when he threw Gambian international skipper Seyfo Soley into the mix for the friendly clash with Southend United.
Listed as just a 'trialist' on the club's official website this afternoon, the 28-year-old Soley is not exactly your average, teenage wannabe freshly released by some Premiership Academy.
He has spent four seasons playing in the top flight of Belgian football with KRC Genk – as well as a six-month spell with Preston North End under then boss Paul Simpson.
Indeed, he even featured against the Canaries in the 2-1 defeat at Deepdale in February, 2007, in which Wolves new-boy Jason Shackell grabbed City's lone consolation.
Having failed to agree a new contract with Simpson that summer, Soley next popped up again on the radar this summer with Motherwell where he was handed a trial spell by Mark McGhee.
That didn't lead to much – other than the Well boss suggesting that the strapping Gambian was 'too laid back' for his liking.
Why the six-foot two-inch defender might – potentially – be to Roeder's liking is not too hard to fathom. He is six-foot two-inches tall, strapping and – apparently – is just at home in the centre of midfield as he is in central defence.
Whether or not City Reserve team boss Paul Stephenson plays him there or alongside on-loan Spurs triallist Troy Archibald-Henville will be one point of interest for the Soccer PM! crew tonight; the performances of Messrs Cureton, Lupoli and Hoolahan as they look to top up their match fitness with a second string outing against the Shrimpers will be another.
But Soley's arrival in Norfolk is very telling. Particularly if the manager has flicked through his cv and seen the word 'midfielder' next to his name.
For clearly – in modern phraseology – the Gambian is a 'big unit'. Just as the six-foot two-inch Brazilian Anderson de Silva was for Barnsley.
And he was a player to whom the Canaries had no real answer; just as few teams did when – and it remained a when – Dickson Etuhu turned on the power for the Canaries before his Premiership switch to Sunderland.
Even if Etuhu was on one of his all-too frequent quiet days, he was simply a big obstacle for the opposition to go round. No-one went through him; you didn't exactly brush Dickson Etuhu aside.
It was those kind of worries that were clearly crossing Roeder's mind in the wake of that fortunate 0-0 draw at Oakwell; that, physically, the Canaries were too lightweight in the middle of the park.
With events at St Mary's four days later doing little to dispell that impression, the City chief made one of his bigger, political decisions of the season on Saturday when he dropped skipper Mark Fotheringham to the bench and installed Darel Russell alongside man of the match Sammy Clingan.
Whether on the back of McGhee's parting remarks Soley has the kind of box-to-box energy to fulfil the Dickson Etuhu stroke Damien Francis brief is a moot point; his goal-scoring record over the last eight years in Europe would suggest that he is not an attacking midfielder of that mould.
Indeed, there is every chance that he will be rolled out at centre-half where Norwich's lack of inches again cost them dear on Saturday. As comfortable on the ball as Adam Drury is, Mother Nature never built the long-serving Canary star to stop a Rob Hulse in his tracks.
The Rams frontman could almost do as he pleased whenever the ball was lofted high towards the far post and minus the suspended Dejan Stefanovic, the injured John Kennedy and the recalled Jonathan Grounds Norwich again lacked any heavyweight presence at the heart of that defence as Hulse helped himself to their opener.
With right-back Jon Otsemobor picking up a “nasty” ankle knock against the Rams, there is every chance that Elliot Omosuzi will have to return there for the big trip to Ashton Gate on October 18. Once again leaving a big hole at centre-half. Needs must…
Soley also has one other big string to his bow in these financially-straitened times. He's a free agent and will be relatively cheap to run. Nor does he add to Roeder's complicated loan calculations following the arrival of a ninth loan signing this summer in the shape of Leroy Lita.
With no fresh investment appearing over the horizon in the next three months, then Kennedy will be on the plane home to Glasgow come January – leaving Roeder with another massive hole to fill as the on-loan Celtic star returns to the Parkhead faithful.
Speaking after Saturday's 2-1 defeat to the Rams, Roeder was at pains to pay tribute to Drury's efforts in his stand-in role alongside Omosuzi.
“I thought considering their lack of inches, they coped really well,” said Roeder, well aware that in the Championship size, alas, matters. Every extra inch counts.
“Even though we lost the game, I thought I was proved right to play Adam [Drury] inside,” Roeder added. “I really thought he was terrific. Well-supported by Elliot.
“But as I said to the boys yesterday, one of the reasons that football's one of the best team games in the world is [the fact] that it's the game where the little guy can beat the big guy. If he's good enough and clever enough.
“You have all these American sports – Gridiron, basketball – unless you're six-foot ten, you don't get a game. But football is the beautiful game because if the little guy is good enough and clever enough then he can beat the big guy. And there aren't too many team games like that.”
Trouble is that, in this particular divsion, if the little guy isn't good enough or clever enough – or suffers an untimely dip in form – then the big guy wins every time.
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