City chief Glenn Roeder will be keeping his fingers firmly crossed that Wes Hoolahan's batteries are fully recharged come the weekend – or else the January transfer window yields its first piece of fruit this week.
Roeder was bullishly upbeat that smething would happen transfer-wise this weekend. At which end of his struggling side reinforcement comes is the next concern given the on-going issues that surround the Elliot Omosuzis and Adam Drurys of this world in that huge, gaping hole next to Gary Doherty.
On the back of Arturo Lupoli's statement of intent last week and his point all but proved with that 71st minute leveller at The Valley 24 hours later, this week's focus is likely to be on Norwich's goal-shy front-line.
Now without Leroy Lita – linked over the weekend to cut-price switches to the Premiership – and with stand-in striker Darel Russell suspended for this weekend's forthcoming trip to Sheffield United, who partners Antoine Sibierski up front is becoming a question of huge political significance – let alone playing importance.
Some 3,200 travelling Canary supporters will have their own thoughts on the matter after finding a new hero in their midst in the shape of the 21-year-old on-loan Italian and his smartly-taken fifth goal of the season.
Roeder, however, may still be more than tempted by the prospect of dropping Hoolahan into that little hole off Sibierski.
In fairness to the one-time Blackpool schemer – still without a goal to his name in City colours – he did as much as anyone to keep Norwich's dreams of an FA Cup fourth round ticket to Brisbane Road alive with a typically inventive and sparky second-half performance after te Canary chief made those two changes at the interval.
Off went dead leg victim Omosuzi at right-back to be replaced by Jon Otsemobor; on came Hoolahan for a noticeably ineffective Matty Pattison in that left-wing role.
Couple Hoolahan's efforts to the waning effect of Charlton's blossoming 16-year-old Jonjo Shelvey and he probably did enough to warrant a start at Sheffield United this weekend.
Whether, however, that comes at the expense of Lupoli is the mootest of moot points for many right now. Most would like to see both on from the start.
“Wes has been playing particularly well recently and I just decided to give him a breather,” said Roeder, speaking straight after Saturday's 1-1 draw at The Valley.
“Because I've often found with small players that – having studied the game and understood the human body – little players tend to run their batteries down very quickly,” added Roeder, as he explained his thinking behind leaving Hoolahan on the bench and re-installing his skipper Mark Fotheringham into the heart of his midfield.
“Wes has had two hard games last week and he was felling the effects of those.
“I was always going to get him on at some time in the second-half, but I decided to get him on at half-time,” said Roeder, a decision that earned its due reward as Hoolahan got on the ball time and time again and looked to nick telling balls in behind Matt Holland & Co.
“He did well,” said the City chief, as another key week looms.
“He's a good player – and he's quite cheap for a couple of hundred grand.”
What Roeder can prise out of the current transfer market for a couple hundred grand or less is, of course, the $64 million question.
Both Omosuzi and Drury emerged with dead legs; the latter, however, was forced to play on with the City chief having played all three of his substitution cards.
“That's the spirit of Adam Drury,” Roeder acknowledged, about to be handed tha trip down Memory Lane – if Norwich can overcome Charlton in the replay and if Sheffield United fail to overcome Orient in their re-scheduled third round tie on the same night.
Saturday's game was postponed due to a frozen pitch leaving 2,000 Blades fans heading back north game-less.
Boss Kevin Blackwell had every sympathy for them as he used the postponement to at least some advanatge – he could be found sitting in the stands at The Valley giving his potential league and cup opponents a look-see.
“It's frustrating,” Blackwell told the Sheffield Star as their third round clash bit the frozen dust. “There's no way it could have gone ahead, but the temperature was only going to get colder so it's a shame it couldn't have been announced earlier.
“We're here and so are the fans,” he added. “They've dug deep into their own pockets to come down, used their valuable time and money, so I do feel desperately sorry for them.
“I'll be doing a bit of scouting though, having a look at our next opponents, so at least it's not been a total blow-out for me.”
Leave a Reply