The man who might step into Mark Fotheringham's shoes on both a part and a full-time basis was today making all the right noises ahead of this evening's trip to Queen's Park Rangers.
But whilst Darel Russell was busily saying all a dread-filled supporter might want to hear as Norwich's desperate fight to beat the drop continues at Loftus Road, so it was Mark Fotheringham's name that continued to occupy many a headline as the Canary skipper today found himself linked to an immediate loan switch to Preston North End.
That havig been 'overlooked' by new Canary boss Bryan Gunn, Fotheringham's fellow Scot Alan Irvine was about to apply a spot of 'emergency loan' thinking and take the Canary skipper on loan at Deepdale until the end of the season.
That Fotheringham and Norwich's relationship is under some strain is not in question after Gunn yesterday admitted he was “disappointed” by the club skipper's reaction to his second-half substitution for his midfield rival Russell.
The manager was also in a mind to have a chat “with certain individuals” as to what their mind-set was likely to be between now and the end of the season. And if that chat led to the sense that there was a little boil that needed to be lanced sooner rather than later, so talk of Deepdale switches could gather pace.
The acid test would come tonight and whether or not Fotheringham's name appeared on the team-sheet at QPR. If he failed to make even the bench, then it would become swiftly clear that his time might be up in Norfolk – that if his head wasn't right, Gunn and Co can ill-afford to carry any passengers into 11 games that will determine Norwich's Championship destiny.
Russell, of course, is likely to be the No1 beneficiary after admitting that he had had to endure a miserable season effectively playing second fiddle to the one-time Celtic starlet – even being forced to take game wherever he could. As in a stand-in striker, for example.
“It's been a massively frustrating season,” he said, a feeling he shares with thousands of others.
“I'm in my so-called 'peak' of my career – or getting towards that – and I've spent a lot of the season playing in a position that's not familiar to myself – and spent quite a bit of the time on and off the bench.
“And not to have an effect on your future at times can be really frustrating – just being sat on the sidelines and not being able to give what you can give.”
That, you strongly suspect, is now all about to change as Gunn encourages Russell to give his very all for the Canary cause – kicking off with this week's two, back-to-back away trips.
“The away games have obviously been a sticking point for us this year – they can't be a sticking point for us any more,” said Russell, with this Saturday's long haul to Blackpool next on the agenda.
The question was would the Canaries feel a weigt lifted from their shoulders away from Carrow Road? That the fear, the dread and the resignation was becoming just too much of a burden to bear in their own back-yard. For periods of Saturday's 2-1 defeat by Coventry City you could hear a pin drop as everyone's worst fears stared them in the face after Jordan Henderson's opener.
“Whether you're playing at home or away, every game is as valuable and as important as every other one from now on. And I think we need to put all of those worries aside – and really step up to the plate and get the results,” added Russell.
“That's all I can say. And, clearly, we all need to step up to the plate as a team. And individually. And get the results that we need to get.”
And learn to lve with the criticism that is inevitable in the bottom three of the Championship. Take it on the chin; recognise who pays your wages was Russell's message.
“The fans are those that pay to come and watch us play – and if we're not performing, then they're entitled to have their opinion. As I might have my opinion on a game that I might watch on TV.
“Their opinion is entirely their's – and I fully respect their opinion. And if they decide that people aren't good enough; aren't fit to wear the shirt, then it's for individuals – and us, collectively, as a team – to prove that we are able to do that.
“Obviously it's maybe different for younger players who haven't been in this situation before, but it is a mental toughness thing. And fans are entitled to their opinion.
“They got out to work every day – and pay money to come and watch us play. And we're meant to go out there, entertain them and get the results that we're meant to get. And if we're not doing that, then they're entitled to have a moan and have a groan about it.”