City boss Glenn Roeder will be a more than interested spectator tonight as Reading play host to Coventry City in this evening's live Championship game on Sky.
The reason is not exactly too hard to fathom. For with the Canary chief due to put a crucial call into Reading's director of football Nicky Hammond over the next 48 hours to check whether they will allow Leroy Lita out to play for a third month, he needs all to go well for the Royals tonight.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, Roeder made it clear that he hoped the 24-year-old would be in Norfolk till the New Year. As it currently stands, he is due to return to the Thames Valley after Sunday's derby clash with Ipswich Town.
But with Jamie Cureton now part of Simon Davey's thinking at Oakwell following his loan switch last week and Lita again proving his worth with a decent goal at Hillsborough – No6 for his temporary Norwich career – Roeder desperately needs for Hammond and Royals boss Steve Coppell to say: 'Yes!'
“I don't see why, if things are going OK at Reading and assuming Leroy wants to carry on playing first team football, that Reading don't leave him here for the third month, and that would be an ideal scenario for everybody,” said the City chief on Friday, with the fact that Lita is out of contract next summer and – in Reading's eyes – probably in need of a decent shop window ahead of the New Year sales helping Norwich's increasingly urgent cause.
“I know Reading's greatest concern is in January, when his contract runs out at the end of the year, that they try and capitalise on getting something for him rather than allowing him to leave on, basically, a Bosman next year.”
Reading's form has wobbled slightly of late – that shock 2-1 home defeat by Southampton being followed by a 2-2 draw at their forthcoming FA Cup opponents Cardiff City.
In fairness, they played the game with ten men for the better part of an hour; Kevin Doyle also kept his scoring boots on as he bagged his 15th strike of the season to earn that point against the Bluebirds. And with his fellow, 25-year-old Irish pal Noel Hunt on eight for the season, so Coppell's strike force remains in little need of Lita.
The pair do the business against the Sky Blues tonight and Roeder might have one piece of good news to cling to after another difficult weekend at the office – that 3-2 defeat at Hillsborough, complete with a red card for John Kennedy, being followed by a miserable FA Cup third round draw away at Charlton Athletic and reports that his No2, Lee Clark, might top Huddersfield Town's wish-list for their vacant managerial position.
Having thought twice about chasing the managerial vacancy at Carlisle – back towards his native North-East – the feeling remained that Clark, while ambitious enough to want his own No1 job, may yet stay by Roeder's side for now out of simple loyalty; that he would not want to be seen to abandon his long-time mentor just when the going started to get really tough.
Roeder's weekend would have been complete had Cureton grabbed a goal on his Tykes debut away at Nottingham Forest. The 33-year-old came on as a 58th minute substitute in the 1-0 defeat at the City Ground – a result that saw Forest close the gap on the struggling Canaries.
Cureton is now expected to make his first start against Reading next weekend as he explained his decision to leave his beloved Norwich and seek pastures new.
“There were four strikers ahead of me at Norwich – three of them are on loan,” Cureton told the Sheffield Star newspaper in the wake of his deadline day loan switch last week. “And I've not started a game in the last 16.”
All of which prompted a conversation with Roeder as Cureton found his path to regular first team football blocked by Lita, Antoine Sibierski and Arturo Lupoli – the three 'hired guns' ahead of him in the queue. A fourth, Portsmouth teenager Omar Koroma, was due to resume full-time training this week after his recent injury problems.
“Me and the manager have spoken; we spoke about different bits and bobs, maybe if it was right to go on loan,” he told the Star. “The gaffer understood my feelings and we just left it really. He was happy to have me, but at the same time if the right sort of thing comes up, then we would both look at it and go from there.”
He added: “I heard of Barnsley interest through my agent the day before deadline, I had a chat with Simon Davey and agreed to come.”
Davey was happy enough with his first 30-minutes in a Barnsley shirt.
“He's a finisher, a sharp striker in and around the box,” Davey told reporters at the City Ground on Saturday night. “I felt that if I put him on he'd get a chance. A bit of good footwork and he got a couple of good shots off which is what Jamie is all about.”