City stars Adam Drury and Dejan Stefanovic have been handed a big date for their summer diaries – Monday, June 29.
It is the start of a gruelling, two-day fitness camp before pre-season proper starts in earnest on Thursday, July 2.
Both players found their Championship season bedevilled by serious injury; both are under contract at Carrow Road and both, in theory, could have key roles to play in City's first stab at League One football in the better part of 50 years.
For as much as Canary chief Bryan Gunn has made much of the need to blood young and hungry things from either the club's FA Youth Academy in the likes of a Declan Rudd or a Korey Smith or from the non-league scene in the shape of a Cody McDonald, so he is equally well aware that you never win anything with kids – he is going to need a backbone of older heads to keep the club's younger guns out of harm's reach.
Which is why Drury – 31 in August – and former Pompey skipper Stefanovic – 35 in October – could have such key roles to play. Provided, of course, they can prove their fitness worth after so long in and out of rehab.
Right now, confirmed Gunn, both are on course to hit that June 29 deadline.
“They're both working away,” said the City chief, as he looks to have the basis of his squad in place ahead of the Canaries pre-season tour to Scotland.
“Adam Drury has already had his break; he's back now working hard at Colney.
“Dejan is on his break, but he'll be back in next week again looking to top up his rehab. And, hopefully, they'll both be in a position to hit the ground running on Jume 29th – that they'll both be right out in front of the running groups and all the work that they and the physio staff have put in will have paid off.”
Stefanovic's first season in a City shirt following his free transfer arrival from Fulham on a two-year deal lasted just a dozen games before the 6ft 2in Serb ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments in the 2-2 draw with Preston North End in October.
Former Canary skipper Drury – handed a four-year City deal under ex-boss Peter Grant – played just two games more as he struggled to regain full and lasting fitness after his own serious knee op; one which involved 'donating' tissue from the back of his hamstring.
Whether a season on tour at Yeovil and Hartlepool will prove to Stefanovic's liking is another matter; the former Portsmouth hero is likely to be one of the more expensive units to run and in the current, cold financial climate at Carrow Road both parties might prefer to cut their losses and run.
The depth to which that controversial season ticket rebate, in particular, could hit the Norfolk club became all-too evident today with director Michael Foulger revealing a potential ?1 million 'loss' – if everyone entitled to that League One rebate, claimed it.
But with that rebate likely to amount to some ?70 on a standard Barclay Stand season ticket, in the current climate ?70 remains a lot of money to each, individual supporter – particularly when it was promised to them should Yeovil and Hartlepool be hoving into view next season.
Cue much by the way of soul-searching among the club's 18,000-strong season ticket holders as the Banham Poultry chief today tried to soften the blow with a promise of his own – that every penny not reclaimed by season ticket holders would be matched by one of his own.
It is a vow that could yet cost the lifelong Canary fan up to ?1 million, but desperate times call for such desperate measures as the club – and the much-maligned board in particular – looks to rebuild its bridges with its fed-up, if not furious supporters.
“The club is appealing to all season ticket-holders to consider not claiming their rebate – for the benefit of the playing budget as we enter this crucial campaign in a difficult financial climate,” Foulger told the Evening News today.
“If everyone claims the rebate, it will amount to over ?1 million, a significant figure which will make a vital and telling difference to our 2009-10 playing budget,” he added, vow in hand.
“What I can assure you of is this . . . if you don't claim your rebate, every single penny not paid out to fans will be used for the playing squad.
“As a director and lifelong fan of the Canaries, I would like to take this one step further. I personally will match pound for pound the final total not claimed, with all the money going directly into football.”
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