City boss Glenn Roeder this morning revealed that he came within an hour of adding a fresh face to his wafer-thin squad yesterday – only for the Championship player concerned to settle for staying where he was, picking up his wages for doing nowt.
Given that it came on the same day that the Canary chief decided he could do without Jamie Cureton's services for the next three months as the 33-year-old was allowed to join Barnsley on loan, so he had just 16 senior professionals to take on the bus to Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow.
The last two places on the coach – Nos 17 and 18 – went to two, Academy teenagers, Tom Adeyemi and Under-18 skipper Korey Smith with both Ryan Bertrand and Elliot Omosuzi not expected to feature against the Owls this weekend.
“We came very close,” said Roeder, as the final loan deadline of 2008 came and went at five o'clock yesterday afternoon. Now Norwich have to face that hectic festive spell with what they've got – a senior squad that picks itself, in short.
“We didn't get the player that I wanted at four o'clock – an hour before,” he said. “Which was very, very frustrating. [Because] I was expecting the player would have come.
“But we got into this secnario again that I got into this time last year when I tried to bring in a couple of senior players in on loan. They seem to me to be in this comfort zone of only playing sometimes for their team; the rest of the time they're sat in the stand and stay where they're not really wanted. Rather than come to somewhere where they are wanted and play football every week.
“And I just think it really is a sign of the times.”
Roeder refused to speculate as to the player's identity – other than he wasn't a Premiership player.
“This particular lad has been playing quite regular football for his first team, but had become surplus to requirement in the last couple of weeks,” said the City boss, a description that ruled out at least three of the usual suspects – the Premiership Newcastle pair of David Edgar and Andy Carroll and Steve Bruce, Jnr.
Having been seemingly surplus to requirements at Portman Road, Alex Bruce has found himself right back at the heart of Jim Magilton's defensive thinking of late following an injury to skipper Gareth McAuley. So it ain't him, either.
“He wasn't a striker,” added Roeder. “And he would have been a very good signing for us. Not in the Premiership; in our division.”
Given the manner in which Matty Pattison has hit the goal trail of late and the way in which Sammy Clingan has grabbed the skipper's armband on the back of the strength of his performances in central midfield, the obvious implication is that the player concerned would have come in at centre-half where Roeder has just two natural performers in Gary Doherty and John Kennedy.
Adam Drury is now likely to remain a left-back; Omosuzi is still struggling with his hamstring; centre-half is where Norwich remain chronically short.
Not that they are over-flowing with options at centre-forward. Omar Koroma was due to resume training today after three weeks out with injury as Roeder once again ran over the reasons for Cureton's exit to South Yorkshire.
For the first 28 days, he's a Barnsley player. Only then do Norwich enjoy an instant recall – much in the same way that Reading do over Leroy Lita.
“Who knows? It might be just what he [Cureton] needs to kick-start him playing first team football again,” said the City chief, with Barnsley to be found yesterday celebrating their 'sensational' capture of a one-time Championship 'Golden boot' winner.
Roeder suggested that minus any first team football of late, the bounce had gone from Cureton's step; that he clearly needed a fresh start – even if it was, for now, strictly on a short-term basis at Oakwell. That having been top-scorer last season, this season and nothing had clicked.
“I'd noticed that in the last month it had really been getting him down and wearing him out,” said Roeder.
“And when you're 33 and you know that realistically you're into the last couple of seasons of your career and you don't want to be spending any more time than you have to sat in the stands or only on the bench.
“And you know that the few times that he had got on the pitch, he didn't just quite seem the same Jamie Cureton.”
All of which, said Roeder, left opportunity knocking for the on-loan pair of Koroma and Lupoli.
“There's a couple of young players in Arturo and 'OJ' [Koroma] who are trying to push their way into the team – younger, fresher legs.”
He was also hopeful that Reading would play ball over Lita and allow him out to play for a third and final month. Out of contract next summer, the Royals will be listening to offers come the New Year. Given Norwich's perilous financial position off the pitch – let alone their alarming one on it – Lita looks unlikely to become a full-time Canary signing in January.
And with both Sibierski and Kennedy due to return to their own, full-time employers, the 'fun and games' have only just begun.
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