City boss Bryan Gunn is clearly intent on bringing the Canaries' FA Youth Academy right to the fore this summer as elements of his longer-term thinking begin to emerge.
For now, of course, his attention is fixed on securing enough points from Norwich's five remaining games to ensure that the Norfolk club start the 2009-2010 season firmly in the Championship fold.
But with his player budget likely to come under intense pressure – whichever division the Canaries find themselves in next August – so the need for Norwich to find fresh talent from within the ranks of Ricky Martin's youngsters will grow ever more urgent.
Which is why, you sensed, Gunn was more than happy to dwell on four names ahead of tomorrow's trip to the Liberty Stadium, Swansea.
FA Youth Cup stars Korey Smith and Tom Adeyemi have already been mentioned in the manager's despatches as the teenage pair join the senior ranks; it is the fate of the Luton Two – Michael Spillance and Chrissy Martin – that was also occupying the manager's thoughts this week having watched the pair help the Hatters to their Johnstone's Paints Trophy final success at Wembley last Sunday.
Provided Spillane puts pen to paper on his new deal, both can expect to figure rather larger in the manager's thinking than they ever did under his immediate predecessor.
And whilst Gunn might not have made the point himself, the implication was clear enough – in these straitened financial times, there is absolutely no guarantee that the Canaries could afford to sign a Alan Lee on for a couple of seasons. Or, indeed, give Carl Cort another pay-as-you-play deal.
Martin, by contrast, is already under long-term contract. The future may well belong to the Smiths and Martins of this world; not the Lees and the Corts.
“I was very happy with what I saw – and, yes, they will be; they will be like two, fresh signings in the summer,” said Gunn, who long ago made it clear that he would have hauled the pair back from Kenilworth Road had his managerial appointment been made just a week earlier.
“I'd been down earlier in the season in my player recruitment role; saw them both; came back and reported.
“And we've been watching them quite closely since I've been manager as well; Ian Crook and Paul Crichton went down to one of the games as well.
“And everything that I've seen and they've seen has been very positive,” added Gunn, delighted that he already has Master Martin under contract lock and key.
“He'll certainly be back; Micky's got a contract on the table and we hope that we can get those fine details sorted out soon and make sure that they start as Norwich City players on the first week of July.”
Spillane earned his Wembley winner's medal at right-back; the fact that that role is just one string to the bow of the Republic of Ireland Under-19 star merely strengthens his hand.
“He's the type of player that can adapt to different positions; he feels his best position is centre-back; he's also played centre-midfield and right-back.
“So to have someone of that versatility is your squad… and then it's down to him to impress us as to which his best position is.”
Martin and Spillane both have two other qualities in their locker – one is size; both are decent athletes. As is Adeyemi.
The other is edge. Both aren't strangers to the odd spot of trouble; they have, to coin a phrase, a little bit of mongrel in them. A quality that Smith, you sense, also brings to the party.
And as has been proved before – most noticeably in the case of England Under-16 sensation Ryan Jarvis – nice kids aren't always best suited to the rough, back alleys of the Championship.
“It's good to have these guys; seeing them compete at Wembley; to have that experience,” added Gunn, well aware of the double-edged sword that was the exit of 'Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum' to the furthest reaches of League Two under Roeder.
“If they hadn't have gone to Luton, then they wouldn't have experienced Wembley, but at the same time if I'd had a week's difference in the job I might even have had them in my squad for tomorrow. But that was outside my remit.”
Martin, certainly, caught the manager's eye as he grabbed Luton's leveller. “I saw in Chris Martin a new maturity – one that might have been missing in his first season as a professional.
“And I think he knows me well enough to know that I won't let him get away with anything. And I know the standards he can get to. So I'll be making sure that we get the best out of Chris Martin.
“And Micky as well – he's certainly grown in terms of maturity; he's impressed people – certainly with the Republic of Ireland. With the Under-19s and the Under-21s.”
The point remains that in this current climate, Gunn has to give these kids every chance to blossom; nurturing them through a la Sir Alex Ferguson and a once-wayward Wayne Rooney has to be a key requirement of the manager's role. In that regard, you suspect that Gunn is tailor-made. He has, after all, a young man of his own embedded deep within that Academy set-up.
“The club has spent a lot of money in the development of these players with the Academy and with Ricky Martin and we need to make sure that we can see the benefits of that. You cannot play every single kid in the team; you need to have some experience around them.
“But my thinking at the moment will be to develop these players and turn them into either Norwich City first team players – or they can go off to other clubs and make a future for themselves. And, maybe, get compensation and transfer fees for them.
“And that's the idea of the Academy – develop some players for yourself. And, financially, if they're not going to be to your standard, get a return for them.”
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