Just how bare City's bones are right now became ever more apparent at Colney this morning as hard-pressed City boss Glenn Roeder revealed that untried teenagers Korey Smith, Tom Adeyemi and Damon Lathrope could all find their way onto that seven-man bench at The Valley tomorrow.
On-loan striker Jamie Cureton would not, however, be recalled from Barnsley. Despite the fact that Leroy Lita was now expected to start Reading's FA Cup trip to Cardiff City and Portsmouth teenager Omar Koroma was back at Fratton Park after a Christmas Eve ankle op that is likely to rule him out for up to ten weeks.
And nor was Roeder holding out any immediate prospect of the transfer window yielding much by way of fresh fruit. Neither the players – nor the cash – were out there, appeared to be the general gist.
“Fozzy [Fotheringham] got an injury in training yesterday and that makes him only 50-50 for tomorrow,” was the first injury revelation ahead of City's FA Cup third round clash with fellow Championship strugglers Charlton.
And, according to Roeder, the club skipper was already penned in for a start alongside Sammy Clingan in the heart of that City midfield.
“He came off worse in the tackle with Pattison; but that's life.”
The possibility of Lita hanging around a while longer – well, five months longer – was also swiftly dealt with. He will be found in a blue and white shirt at Ninian Park tomorrow.
“He's playing in the cup tomorrow,” confirmed Roeder, last weekend's hopes of a second-half season loan deal firmly on the ropes as the 24-year-old himself looks to keep all his options open ahead of becoming a free agent in the summer.
For Royals boss Steve Coppell it also gives him a chance to rest either of the two Hunts or Kevin Doyle now that he has a fully match-fit Lita back at his disposal again.
“They're going to see what happens this month,” was Roeder's response to the inevitable 'And then…?' question.
“My personal feeling is that they will keep him. We've done what we can to get him here; to retain him until the end of the season. But first of all the player wants to keep his options open – or that's what he's told me; that he won't sign for anybody in January.”
The other large fly in the ointment were Reading themselves who – not unreasonably – wanted to continue to enjoy an immediate recall on their much-admired striker. Something they wouldn't get if he signed on again for the Canaries following that initial, three-month loan spell.
“If he was to sign for a half-season loan now, they [Reading] couldn't call him back now. So they'd prefer to loan him to somebody else where after 28 days they could get him back.”
In the same way that City could still get Cureton back off Barnsley. If spirits were ever willing.
“We have made them [Reading] a financial offer to retain his services to the end of the season that at the moment is of no interest to them,” continued Roeder. “And it's a really good offer as well, by the way. It's not pennies.”
With no Lita, little sign of an early thaw re Cureton and that robustness question mark still hanging over Arturo Lupoli, was the door open for Koroma's elevation back into the first team firing line?
Er, no. Slammed fairly shut given how the teenager spent his Christmas.
“OJ's [Koroma] is out for ten weeks,” Roeder revealed to a shocked Press conference. “He had an operation on Christmas Eve.
“He got injured in a behind-closed-doors game. Ankle. Not serious. It sounds serious because of the length of time, but it's because he's young. If he was an older player, you might push him back in after about six weeks. But it could be ten, 12 weeks to take extra care of him.
“So he's back at Portsmouth having rehab.”
All of which leaves Roeder counting heads and punters – 2,700 of whom are Valley-bound tomorrow – scratching heads as to why Norwich can afford to be without Cureton if needs must to this degree.
“That's what I'm saying – the numbers keep falling away. It's ridiculous,” said Roeder, figuring on being down to “13 to 14” fit senior professionals tomorrow depending on Fotheringham's well-being.
Was he not half-tempted to recall Cureton, now that he's fresh from grabbing two goals in two games for his new, part-time employers? “No,” was Roeder's unyielding response. “He can stay there for three months. And we'll see what happens after that.”
Time for Lupoli to partner Antoine Sibierski – the one player that the manager would confirm would start tomorrow?
“Possibly,” said the City chief. “But in the past I've preferred Rusty [Darel Russell]. But I'm not going to tell Phil Parkinson my team. But, possibly.”
The one definite piece of news concerned Elliot Omosuzi. He was hanging around for all the next five months might bring.
“Done – I spoke to Roy [Hodgson] last week and he said he can play in the cup and everything.”
As for the small matter of the transfer window being open… that will make for another story…
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