City's in-demand anchorman Sammy Clingan looks all set to miss tomorrow's trip to Deepdale after aggravating a thigh injury on international duty with Northern Ireland this week.
This morning and Norwich chief Bryan Gunn rated the reported Fulham target “50/50” for the trip to Preston North End, whilst insisting he would delay naming his side for the Lilywhites clash until the last possible moment – just in case Mother Nature rode to the Canaries' rescue.
But Gunn is clearly wondering whether or not discretion might not be the better part of selection valour; push Clingan's troubled thigh too far and he could be out for weeks, not days.
“Sammy is probably rated only 50/50 at the moment,” admitted Gunn, speaking at Colney this morning.
“He's come back from the Northern Ireland squad still feeling his injury. He got his bang against Wolves – and then played against Bristol. So it just shows you that he's committed – that he wants to play.
“But we've also got to be wary that if we do play him and he gets it worse, we'll be without one of our top players for a number of games.”
Of course, there has been much talk this week of Norwich being without one of their top players full stop as Fulham, Clingan and ?3 million managed to find their way into the same sentence.
Irrespective of when an unofficial bid becomes a formal approach, in the current climate you snap someone's hand off for ?3 million. In fact, you probably drive Clingan down to the Cottage yourself if it means a cheque for said sum is heading back up the A11.
Provided, of course, that the next S Clingan was already in the building.
“Wow!” was Gunn's disbelieving reaction to that reported transfer sum. “I might have taken that…”
As well most might. Would cover the cost of a three-month loan spell for Andrew Davies, another couple of grand a week for Lee Croft, an extension of a pay-as-you-play deal for Carl Cort, as well as the cost of an air fare for some rugby league look-a-like from Australia arriving on the back of Ian Crook's contacts book.
So, were there any offers for him?
“There were no offers club-to-club,” said the City, with all manner of agent-talk no doubt lying in between.
“And you can read into that what you want. There was mention of an offer, but it wasn't from club to club. And we'd only deal with Fulham, obviously. Club to club. In fact the best way to say it, probably, is that there's been no formal approach.”
It was, however, clearly a conversation that could be returned to in the summer. The Canaries might still be able to duck and dive their way through the 'emergency loan' window, but up in the Premiership where the full, FIFA rules apply no-one is now going anywhere till the end of the season.
“You've got to take a lot of things into consideration – our needs as a club to have quality players; especially at this stage of the season. We need the best players to be on the pitch to achieve results and points.
“But from the financial side, clubs like Norwich would need to consider bids like that. And, of course, from the player's point of view the opportunity to play at a higher level… You'd have to take that into consideration as well.
“But it's hypothetical at the moment because there's nothing doing. And the summer is a long time away – we've got 14 massive games and, as I say, Sammy realises that. And wants to be part of it.”
Clingan isn't Gunn's only injury concern – Ryan Bertrand is definitely out with the ankle ligament knock that is expected to rule the on-loan Chelsea starlet out for at least the next seven to ten days.
Whether Gunn would be taking further advantage of the Football League's 'emergency loan' window was, however, still up for debate following this week's return home of Jason Shackell. With Jonathan Grounds already booked in for a return to Middlesbrough on March 7, City's central defensive options remain slender.
Adrian Leijer is, at least, in the building even if this week's snow ruled out some much needed game-time in that proposed friendly clash with Birmingham City.
“There's opportunities,” said Gunn. “But I think we really, really need to assess the guys that we've got and it might be a couple of weeks before we have that opportunity with the Saturday-Saturday matches that we've got and, hopefully, some reserve games fitted in in-between.”
One other player who will miss the trip to Deepdale is ex-Essex scaffolder Cody McDonald. He, it appears, is only due to start full-time training with his new, full-time employers on Monday after his final game in the Ryman Premier left the prolific, non-league marksman with a few, farewell bumps and bruises.
For now, he's in the gym with the recovering Dejan Stefanovic.
Australian international winger David Carney – 'fresh' from his three-minute outing away in Japan this week – is due to team-up with the Canaries again at the team hotel tonight.
He could be an option for that left-hand vacancy if Gunn and his management team believe that against one of the Championship's more formidable home outfits, two solid banks of four – complemented by the balance that two, out-and-out wingers deliver – could be the way to go ahead of Wes Hoolahan's ability to drift into all manner of unexpected spaces.
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