City boss Bryan Gunn this morning confirmed that the club captaincy had, indeed, been stripped from Mark Fotheringham – even if, for now, he remained a Canary player and was “available” for tomorrow's trip to Blackpool.
Gary Doherty – skipper for Tuesday night's superb 1-0 away win at Loftus Road – will take over that role until the end of the season; Sammy Clingan has been appointed City's new vice-captain.
Both, you suspect, will have been moving forces in today's decision by the players to pay for their own flights to Manchester Airport this evening.
As opposed to sitting for six-hours on the M6 en route to a Blackpool hotel on a Friday night, there is clearly a spot of self-interest in this – the fact that they dodn't expect the cash-strapped Canaries to dip their hands into their pockets for the flights north is the kind of timely gesture that can help sustain the 'togetherness' evident in West London on Tuesday night – particularly at that very moment when the restored Darel Russell grabbed the game's only goal.
Given City's precarious position in the bottom three of the Championship, such moments need to be bottled and sold on each and every match-day between now and the end of the season as the new Canary chief hopes that Irish eyes will be smiling on his beloved Canary outfit after he this week arranged a reunion for one-time Dublin teenage pals Wes Hoolahan and David Mooney.
Fresh from grabbing a hat-trick in front of the watching Gunn in Reading's Reserve team win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday afternoon, the 24-year-old Mooney will go straight into Gunn's travelling party for the trip to Bloomfield Road.
“Fozzy [Fotheringham] is still here,” confirmed Gunn, speaking at Colney this morning as the inevitable question arrived. Come Tuesday night and the City chief had confirmed that he was in talks with Preston boss Alan Irvine about Fotheringham's potential exit to Deepdale.
The fact that Gunn this morning revealed that Irvine had gone cold on any potential deal due to the fact that he now had injury issues of his own suggests that a player-swap deal was on the cards – Darren Carter, he of Cardiff penalty shoot-out fame, was one name that had been mentioned.
“There was never anything concrete there,” said Gunn. “I think I did mention the fact that I'd had a chat with Alan Irvine, but he's had an injury situation at his club and he's playing his players.
“So there's nothing elso on on that one [Fotheringham's exit]. As yet.”
That there is probably little or no way back for the one-time Celtic starlet after his petulent reaction to last weekend's substitution is growing increasingly apparent. Having decided between the two of them that he was not even going to travel to Loftus Road – and having then seen Russell deliver the performance and the result that the manager was demanding – all concerned will be looking for a way out before the final 'emergency loan' window of the season ends this month.
In the meantime, Doherty will be charged with leading the team back out into relegation battle this weekend.
“Nothing's changed – he [Fotheringham] is available for selection,” stressed Gunn. “But I have made Gary Doherty the captain for the rest of the season; Sammy Clingan is the vice-captain – and Mark Fotheringham is available for selection. Should he be required.”
As for the newly-arrived Mooney, he did more than enough on Wednesday afternoon to persuade Gunn to not only whip him into Norfolk on loan, but also to include him in the squad for this weekend's flight north.
“I saw him score a hat-trick on Wednesday afternoon,” said the City chief, after new chief scout John Deehan was given the nod that the free-scoring Irish League star was worth a look. According to the player himself, there were “seven or eight” other clubs working on the same basis.
“He played up front with Leroy [Lita] – who he also made a goal for – so, yes, certainly – straight into the squad.”
How would he describe City's latest loan arrival style-wise? One whose arrival may yet find both the luckless Jamie Cureton and fellow new loanee Chris Killen struggling to get a game; indeed, even to force their way onto the bench given that both Alan Gow and Cody McDonald have forced their way into the reckoning.
“Irish. Hungry,” said Gunn, with Reading enjoying an enviable reputation for digging the very best, hidden jewels out of the Emerald Isle. Players who, in turn, have then kept Mooney out of the limelight.
“He looked like he was hungry for the game with his attitude and everything about him was right,” said Gunn, with an ankle knock cutting short his earlier loan spell at Stockport.
“I know he's frustrated at Reading because he feels he hasn't had the chances he should have had because of Kevin Doyle, Shane Long – and now with Leroy back in the squad.
“And I believe with my various discussions with people around the Reading training ground that he is regarded as the best finisher at the club. But he can't get in the team at the moment. From what I saw on Wednesday, he scored goals, got in good positions and his all-round play was good. So, hopefully, he will bring goals to the team.”
Whether he will start, of course, is another matter – pal Hoolahan is all but guaranteed a start against his former employers. Nor is injury about to open a door. Amazing what a win does for the bumps and bruises brigade.
“It's that winning syndrome – don't tend to get too many [injuries] when you've come off the pitch with that jubiliant feeling,” said Gunn.
It is in that spirit that the players have dipped into their own pockets to pay for this afternoon's scheduled flight north.
“The bus is going up with the kit; the bus is going up with the back-room staff. But the lads approached us the other evening to see if they could – as part of their preparation – maybe fly up.
“The financial situation at the club dictates our travelling arrangements, but the players are happy to put their hands in their own pockets – and they made that commitment to us. And, again, that shows there is a commitment [to the cause] from the lads so some of us will be flying up later on a scheduled flight.
“That will obviously take a lot of the travelling time out, so the preparation will be as good as they can have. It's a commitment that they've made and if it helps them get a result at Blackpool, it's a small price to pay.”