City boss Glenn Roeder will at least go into derby battle next month with one more option up his managerial sleeve after Reading today confirmed that Leroy Lita would indeed be allowed to extend his loan spell in Norfolk for another month.
The 23-year-old Royals hitman will – subject to a 24-hour recall clause – now stay in Norfolk until December 7 and the first derby clash of the season against Ipswich Town.
In all, that should ensure that Lita gets another six Canary games under his belt – the back-to-back home clashes with first Preston North End and the Swansea City, the Sky TV trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, November 22, the trip to Sheffield Wednesday the following Saturday with the home clash with Crystal Palace sandwiched in between and, finally, that date with the neighbours on December 7.
Today's news had long been in the wind after Lita's initial month-long loan spell officially ended on Saturday in the wake of the 2-0 defeat at Burnley.
As the official website this afternoon explained, his extended tour of duty has once again found local businessman Carl Moore dipping into his pockets to help finance the second month's loan spell – just as he had the first month and, more famously, so he did with Darren Huckerby's wages.
It has, however, long been clear that all parties have been more than happy for the loan to continue – all Norwich had to do was hope that Reading came through their own away trip to Bristol City this weekend in good shape.
That done and with Lita on a 24-hour recall, Royals boss Steve Coppell clearly sees huge benefit in keeping his striker fully match-sharp at Mr Moore's expense. Particularly if Lita can ever repeat his Wolves (h) heroics and smash large holes in his rivals' promotions ambitions whilst on loan to Norwich.
The fact that Coppell was left to salute Reading's best win of the season on Saturday with that 4-1 success at Ashton Gate – a game that saw Kevin Doyle take his tally for the season to 11 – ensured that Lita's switch became something of a formality.
Certainly the player himself had made it abundantly clear that he was happy to hang around for another month.
“Reading are flying so I don't think the gaffer's going to change much there – and I wouldn't want to go back and not be playing again,” he told reporters, hard on the heels of bagging his fourth goal in a week with that last-gasp winner against Doncaster Rovers.
“I'm in a little flow now, so I'd hope to keep that going,” he added. Alas the flow dried up at first Pride Park and then Turf Moor with two, big chances at key moments in the match coming and going.
Albeit on both occasions Norwich were already well adrift in the game and playing poorly. Had Lita pocketed either, they could still have proved little more than consolation strikes.
Roeder himself merely suggested that his chance against Burnley would only have made the last 20 minutes “interesting”; the Canary chief had seen little in the opening 70 minutes to suggest that a Lita goal would have turned the contest wholly on its head and inspired City to a thrilling 3-2 success.
Turf Moor on a November Saturday doesn't lend itself to inspiration as far as a travelling Norwich side are concerned – which is pretty much one of the major problems as the club finds itself firmly rooted back in the bottom six once more.
At least if Lita can turn it on again at home – against first Preston and then the free-flowing Swans – City can head for the City Ground with some sort of platform to work from. They are, however, still scratching around for any sort of consistency – be it form or team-wise.
Lita should, at least, be one name that you can automatically assume will be on a team-sheet somewhere. D Russell, S Clingan, D Marshall and J Kennedy offer four more. Right now, however, and with Dejan Stefanovic 'rested' for Burnley, Ryan Bertrand dropped and Jon Otsemobor and Elliot Omosuzi still fighting it out for the right back berth, there's not many more players that are certain of a start.
Antoine Sibierski hasn't exactly hit the heights expected of him; he had 'five things wrong with him' going into the long trip to Lancashire, while Arturo Lupoli and wes Hoolahan have yet to nail down their places in Roeder's thinking.
Ditto skipper Mark Fotheringham whose return to the manager's starting thinking owed much to Sibierski's unavailability – which, in turn, found Russell returning to his stand-in 'big' striker role for which Mother Nature never wholly built him for.
Lita, at least, can look the proper Premiership part. He will need to again over the next four weeks if the Canaries are ever to avoid yet another long, hard winter in the bottom-half trenches of the Championship.
“As I say, I'm happy to stay and play,” said Lita after that Doncaster clash. “The gaffer's been great for me. He's brought me here; he's told me that he wants to play to my strengths and make things easy for me and I'm really enjoying it.
“And for as long as I'm here, I'll keep trying to do my best for the team and score as many goals as I can.”