City's rebuilt rearguard will need to be on their very best behaviour tonight as Wolves striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake threatens to add to the Canaries autumn miseries.
With both Saturday's starters – Adam Drury and John Kennedy – rated highly doubtful for this evening's game, it will be left to a fit-again Gary Doherty and an eligible-again Dejan Stefanovic to keep the 22-year-old, one-time Manchester United trainee under wraps as the Carrow Road side look to halt a miserable three-game losing sequence against the league leaders.
Ebanks-Blake may, however, have different ideas after bagging his sixth goal of the season at the weekend in the 2-1 win over Midlands neighbours Coventry City that lifted Mick McCarthy's side back onto the top of the Championship pile.
It nipped thoughts that Wolves might be heading for one of their own, familiar wobbles firmly in the bud as they bounced back from two defeats on the spin. The difference between Wolves' 'bouncebackability' and Norwich's is not hard to fathom.
Ebanks-Blake's 59th minute winner was their 26th goal of the season – their 15th at Molineux. The Canaries, by contrast, have managed just eight all season; only four at home. Anyone can bounce with that kind of firepower at your disposal; that's the point as Norwich head back into battle with no clear idea yet as to what their best attacking pairing is – a goal-shy front-line that looks set to be without Antoine Sibierski tonight after the on-loan Frenchman joined Drury in disappearing before the break at Ashton Gate.
That all said, at home at least Wolves have an encouraging habit of bringing out the best in the Canaries; the atmosphere tends to bubble up nicely – it's whether the players can match that likely atmosphere with a similarly spirited performance that will be the key to this evening's testing contest.
“It wasn't the best of games, but the result was all that mattered,” said Ebanks-Blake, speaking after that weekend success. “After two losses, we just needed to win the game. It can't always be pretty.”
Right now and a pretty can go out of the window as far as the Norwich faithful are concerned; just get a win, lift yourselves for the crucial home clash with fellow early strugglers Doncaster Rovers and brace yourself for two, ugly away-days at Derby County and Burnley the following week.
That's about as far as City's ambitions currently stretch – digging at least four points out of these nxt two games and trying to find a ledge to cling to somewhere around 13th or 14th. For now, that might be as good as it is going to get – or at least until smeone, somewhere lights the blue touch paper goals-wise.
No such worries for the visitors as they look down from on high. Whether City old-boy Jason Shackell puts in an appearance is another matter. The ?500,000 former Canary skipper has yet to start a game for his new employers since that August switch. On Saturday he was granted just five minutes of action.
“It is nice to be back on top but we are not thinking about that,” added Ebanks-Blake – proof of what ?1.5 million well-spent in this division can still get you. This weekend's winner was his 18th goal in 30 Championship appearances for the Cambridge-born striker.
Normally the fact that he was 'Cambridge-born' would raise an eye-brow – one tha slipped through the City scouting net… The fact that his apprenticeship came at first Manchester United and then out to their traditional finishing school in Belgium with Royal Antwerp suggests he was always lined up for greater things.
Hits the dozen goal mark or better come the January transfer window and Wolves' resolve will be sorely tested should one of the bigger boys come a-calling.
As for the Canaries, Roeder has a host of big decisions to make as another clutch of niggling injuries – coupled to another 90 minutes with a big, fat blank to their name – influences his thinking.
Doherty looks odds-on for his first start of the season. It was, said Roeder, one of the few positives to emerge out of the trip to the West Country.
“It was a real positive on Saturday getting Doc onto the pitch,” said the Canary boss, with the one-time Republic of Ireland international picking up a serious ankle injury in that first, pre-season tour game in Sweden this summer.
“I could see that he wasn't carrying any after-effects of the injury that kept him out for so long,” Roeder told the official club website.
In previous times, Doherty has been “a rock” as far as the City boss was concerned – hence the offer of a new two-year deal that the Canary centre-half finally signed this summer.
“It was the Doc [Doherty] that played for us last year – he was safe,” said Roeder – or rather right up until the moment that someone pumped a 45-yard free-kick deep into the Canary box at which point all concerned disappeared.
“Simple, basic, safe defending – and that's what every team requires – safe defenders. I wouldn't have any problem with starting Doc on Tuesday.”
Where his real problems lie is further up field – as in just who does he start with alongside the on-loan Leroy Lita? Minus Sibierski, tradition insists that Darel Russell will again be asked to do a job.
With the City boss admitting that top-scorer Arturo Lupoli finds “the physical aspect difficult [at times]” he coud yet give Omar Koroma another go. He at least proved away at Southampton that he has the explosive, physical threat to unsettle defenders.
All he lacks is the small matter of the finish to match.