City boss Bryan Gunn will be keeping is fingers firmly crossed that Lee Croft's derby day injury proves nothing serious – he desperately needs each and every hand on deck for the final two games of the season as the Canaries face the survival fight of their Championship lives.
Yesterday's 3-2 defeat at the hands of the gleeful neighbours left the Norfolk side with the proverbial mountain to climb if they are to avoid falling into the third tier of English football for the first time in the better part of 50 years.
With Nottingham Forest appearing to be on something of a roll and Barnsley taking everyone by surprise with Saturday's 0-0 draw at play-off hunting Reading, so the Canaries desperately needed to wrest at least a point from their trip to Portman Road this weekend.
In fairness, their overall performance on the day deserved no more than a share of the spoils. As ever, the final manner of the defeat came with the usual raft of hard-luck stories.
Gunn and Co have clrealy brought 101 new and welcome qualities to the Canary fold since they arrived at the helm in the wake of Glenn Roeder's bitter exit, but one of them is not good fortune.
Time and again, officialdom have dogged the manager's best intentions. The fact that the Sheffield Wednesday official subsequently phoned up the City chief to apologise for getting the disallowed David Mooney 'goal' wrong is all so much spilt milk now as Canary fans begin to plot a path to Yeovil next season.
Whether Gunn will have to do without the services of Croft for the final home game of the season against a stuttering Reading side a week tonight is just one of a number of big questions for the manager and his coaching staff to answer in the intervening seven days. His biggest task, however, will be to simply keep everyone believing that Norwich's survival fight remains 'Mission Possible' – that they are not already doomed to the drop.
“If…,” was the manager's pointed response to the reporter who pointed out that should results continue to go against the Canaries, they could be down before they ever hit the road for Charlton the following Sunday.
That game would be a 'dead rubber'; events would have already been decided as Plymouth and Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Southampton slug it out for the third and final drop sot.
“It's if,” added Gunn, desperately trying to keep his anger at referee Neil Swarbrick in check. It simmered just beneath the surface all Press conference long.
“But you're right – there's lots of games that could have an effect on our future, but until we know the outcome of those we can't worry about it.”
The first arrives tomorrow night and Barnsley's away trip to Coventry City. With a home clash against title-seeking Wlves to follow on the Saturday, Reds boss Simon Davey will be desperately keen to leave Norwich four points behind after events at the Ricoh tomorrow night.
Was he still optimistic?
“Yes – very,” he said, without pause or hestitation.
“The team showed their commitment; they battled right to the end. And the supporters stayed right behind us – their response to the players and to myself when I went over there to have a quick chat with the referee was magnificent.”
Manager, player and supporters are going to have to cling together like never before if City are to pull this one out of a blazing fire.
“We've got to dig deep now to get ourselves out of it,” he said.
“There are games next Saturday that we can have no influence on, but if we're still at the races on Monday evening our good team will, hopefully, go out and do the business against Reading.”
They will have to do without Mooney; he is banned from playing against his 'mother' club; they might have to do it without Croft too if he fails to recover from that second-half knock.
All of which could yet give Cody McDonald a start after the one-time Essex scaffolder again showed no fear amidst the professional company he now keeps. He made a complete monkey out of ex-Real Madrid star Ivan Campo tight on the touchline – dragging back a ball that he was never, ever favourite to win.
It was one of the brighter moments of a second period in which the home side enjoyed the greater momentum and belief; much to the glee of the Suffolk locals.
“I don't think we deserved to get beat,” said the City chief afterwards, not about to wholly gild the lily. Ipswich were the better side after the break – albeit courtesy of officialdom.
“It was a keenly-contested match; we managed to get ourselves in front. But give Ipswich credit. They were the home team and they managed to give a spirited response to our goal,” said Gunn, as Alan Quinn wiped out David Mooney's opener within eight minutes.
“So credit to them and the way that they played for their manager. Our aim was to keep them quiet for as long as we could in the early part of the game; we managed to do that. And then we took the lead.
“And then we weathered the storm in the first 15 minutes of the second-half with some great saves from David Marshall; some fantastic defending – people putting their heads and their bodies on the line. And then when you weather that storm you think that you're going to get your opportunities from that, but I think their next attack was the penalty.”