City chief Glenn Roeder will be desperately hoping that John Kennedy's 'warrior' spirit can rub off one one or two more of his team-mates tomorrow night as league leaders Wolves provide another big test for his chronically goal-shy side.
The Canaries have now just Lee Croft's late, late winner against Sheffield United and Sammy Clingan's spot-kick against Derby County to show for all their attacking efforts in their last six games.
The trouble then, of course, is that it only takes one, sucker punch to floor Roeder's men completely. One gift in their own penalty area and that's it – game over.
Which is why Kennedy's expected absence tomorrow night will be felt more keenly than most. The 25-year-old is a class act.
And having played the full 90 minutes on Saturday with an aggravated ankle injury is one loan player who certainly cares about the fate of his part-time employer.
Roeder, certainly, is a huge fan. “I would go as far as saying that he's the best centre-half I have ever worked with,” the Canary chief told the club's official website today.
That's no mean boast given the kind of characters that will have passed through Roeder's hands at first West Ham United and then Newcastle. Not to mention his time in the England coaching set-up.
Steven Taylor is certainly a decent player at St James'; the jury might still be out on Titus Bramble, however.
Either way and it is the Celtic loan star's strength of character that clearly marks him out from the crowd. Given where the Canaries once again find themselves this autumn, the 'character question' is yet again going to be well to the fore – just who has the stomach for the long, hard fight ahead? Like every other season of late, the 2008-2009 campaign looks as if it won't exactly be a stroll in the park.
Three defeats on the spin and with the Norfolk club sat just one place above the drop zone, it is all getting very edgy again.
Quizzed as to the extent of Kennedy's aggravated ankle injury, Roeder dropped into full 'Braveheart' mode. Find another ten of them and City might get places.
“Let me tell you this about John Kennedy – he's a warrior,” said the Canary chief. “They don't make too many men like him now – I just hope this latest injury doesn't keep him out too long.
“If you saw the state of his ankle after the game [on Saturday] I don't know how he's carried on and played as well as he has done.”
Having only just returned from four weeks out with the ankle injury he first sustained in the home clash with QPR, it would be pushing Gordon Strachan's patience to the limit if Kennedy was seen to be strapped up and thrown out there again with the risk of yet further aggravating the underlying injury.
Given that this is a player who has already missed four years of football at Celtic Park with that potentially career-ending knee injury sustained on his Scottish international debut, the Bhoys boss will want Kennedy back in one piece when he returns north in January – leaving a huge, huge hole in his wake.
Because but for the arrival of an Arab royal family up the A11 in the next ten weeks, that's where he's heading – back to underpin Celtic's assault on the Scottish Premier League title.
“He's still young and if he can get over these injuries and stay fit for the next year or so, I think he could be a big player at Celtic,” said Roeder. “He wouldn't look outof place in the best leagues in the world – I think he's that good.”
At least in a fit-again Gary Dohery and the returning Dejan Stefanovic, the City chief has options in the heart of his defence – even if it entails a complete swap from the Kennedy-Adam Drury partnership that began the game at Ashton Gate.
Before half-time, of course, Drury had disappeared along with French target man Antoine Sibierski. Both are now big doubts for the Wolves clash – leaving the big selection decision at the very front of the team.
According to the manager, Jamie Cureton, Omar Koroma, Arturo Lupoli are all in contention for a start alongside the on-loan Leroy Lita. But if it's a physical presence he's looking for, does that inevitably mean another nod for Darel Russell in his unfavoured striking role?
The one dark horse could be Scottish teenager Kris Renton who continued his successful comeback from that double leg break with two goals in this weekend's 3-2 defeat for the City Under-18 Academy side by their Arsenal counterparts. By all accounts, Renton's second was a classic example of the centre-forward's craft – a thumping volley from the edge of the box after an excellent piece of chest control. It might be enough to earn him a place in the squad.
Koroma, too, might be in with a decent shout after disappearing back to Africa last week to play for Gambia. “There was a lot of flying coming back from Africa, but that doesn't mean he won't be involved on Tuesday now that he's fully rested up,” said Roeder.
Whoever the manager finally plumps for, someone, somewhere has to step up to the plate and deliver. Four defeats on the spin going into this weekend's home clash with fellow strugglers Doncaster Rovers will only heighten the level of anxiety surrounding the club.
In the meantime, the club had at least one small piece of good news on the sponsorship front after Jarrolds agreed to extend their sponsorship of the 8,000-plus main stand at Carrow Road for the next five years.
“We are delighted to renew our sponsorship and demonstrate our long term commitment to the club,” said Jarrolds chairman David Hill.
“We consider it important for local businesses like Jarrolds to support their community and we look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with the club onwards and upwards.”
In what is likely to prove one of his last and final acts as City's director of sales and marketing before taking his undoubted talents to MK Dons next month, Andrew Cullen added: “We are delighted and extremely grateful to Jarrolds for agreeing to continue the stand sponsorship for a further five years.
“The sponsorship of the Jarrold Stand from a great Norfolk institution who are committed to the local community has coincided with a long period of sell-out season tickets and capacity crowds here at Carrow Road and Jarrold's ongoing support will help the club reaffirm its commitment to affordable family football for the foreseeable future.”
club's official website
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