City boss Bryan Gunn revealed he had a little trick up his sleeve going into yesterday's 1-1 draw with promotion-chasing Birmingham – a certain Dion Dublin sprinkled his motivational magic dust over the players before kick-off.
In fact, Norwich's Player of the Season last year went to work on his old charges on the Friday night as teamed up with the squad at their Midlands hotel.
Given what followed as the Canaries dug a potentially priceless point out of St Andrew's on the back of a big-spirited away-day showing in front of up to 2,500 travelling City fans, it appears that Dublin now enjoys an open invitation to join 'Team Gunn' whenever Norwich are in his neck of the woods.
“Dion was in the hotel as well last night,” revealed the City chief. “We stayed at a hotel in Birmingham and he lives close by. And it was an invitation from me to join us and be with the staff last night behind the scenes and catch up on old times – and be involved in the dressing room.”
Given that yesterday's clash saw Gunn pit his wits against one of his biggest friends and mentors in football in the shape of Blues boss Alex McLeish, one wonders whether he knew what his old Pittodrie pal had planned for the pre-match mind games.
“I have a lot of respect for Dion,” said Gunn. “And, hopefully, he was an inspiration to some of the players – hopefully, all of the players.
“Considering he only played 18 months of football at Norwich City to have that legendary status at the football club in that short space of time just shows that he is a special person.
“And if we're in and around this area again, we might give him a phone and get him to cme along if that's the sort of performance we get when he's around.”
One of those also getting a big mention in the manager's post-match despatches was Gunn's latest loan signing, Alan Lee.
Thrown in from the start little more than 48-hours after arriving from Crystal Palace, the one-time Town favourite did his very best to win over the doubters with a big, hard-working shift.
Dead on his legs come the final whistle, the 30-year-old could have marked his arrival north of the border in sensational style within the game's opening five minutes – only to somehow scoop a five-yard effort over the bar after Jason Shackell's near-post flick put the initial cat among Blues' defensive pigeons.
Thereafter, however, Lee put himself about with genuine menace and left at least two Blues defenders well and truly rattled as he won ball after ball.
“Alan Lee? Fantastic,” was Gunn's summing up afterwards.
“That's typical Alan Lee – I think he got his first bout of cramp on 60 minutes, but he was such an important player in both penalty boxes – he was marking Jaidi at their set-plays and he's one of their main threats – that we couldn't take him off.
“And he wanted to stay on. All the loan players – they're putting their bodies on the line for the club.”
He also, of course, had tw of Ricky Martin's kids on the bench in the shape of Tom Adeyemi and Korey Smith. Another of the manager's big calls as the FA Youth Cup pair were favoured ahead of both ex-skipper Mark Fotheringham and Matty Pattison. It will be a long, long road back for those two as the City chief starts to look to the future.
“Tom and Korey have been the top players this season [in the FA Youth Cup]; top players in the Reserves when they've played and they've been top players in training when they've joined in with the first team.
“So I had no qualms about including those two in the squad. The injury to Lee Croft forced our hand a little bit, but it was a great experience for them.”
Croft injured himself in training on Friday; he is expected to be fit for the Wednesday clash in a fortnight's time when the Canaries could atke another big step towards safety.
Not that you could find Gunn counting any chickens. That two-point cushion could disappear in an instant.
“We've got a tough job ahead,” he said. “We've got six games and it's going to be crucial that we approach each and every one of those six games with the same application and attitude that we had today.
“We're by no means out of it. We've got some crucial games coming up and we've got to make sure that we focus on each one. One by one.”
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