Bryan Gunn's willingness to seek hidden gems in the murky depths of non-league was again evident this week with news that Cambridge City's right-sided midfielder Scott Neilson would be granted a two-week trial at the Norfolk club.
Cody McDonald is the first of that particular breed as the Canary chief looks to emulate the feat of Wolves boss Mick McCarthy who plucked winger Michael Kightly out of relative obscurity with Grays Athletic before polishing him up into the full Premiership article.
City's interest in Neilson also fits with Gunn's current needs position-wise; that after seeing Lee Croft walk out on a Bosman-style free to Derby County this summer, so he now has a large situation vacant on the right-hand side of his midfield.
Neilson now has two weeks to prove that he might be the man for the job as Lilywhites boss Gary Roberts confirmed the player's exit on a trial basis. On contract with the British Gas Business Southern League side, he could – in theory – net the non-league outfit a five-figure transfer fee with the promise of a bigger windfall to come should Neilson grab his chance of a professional career with both hands.
“A sale could bring in some player funds,” said boss Roberts. “Ever since I've been here we've sold players and moved them on to a higher level at a bigger club.”
Neilson made 49 appearances for City last season; scoring 13 goals in the process.
The fact that Simon Lappin has now put pen to paper on a new, two-year deal with the Norfolk club – thereby finally ending the wilderness years he had to endure under ex-boss Glenn Roeder should start to give Gunn strength and experience in depth down the left-hand side of his side provided that the long-serving Adam Drury can put his injury nightmares of late behind him.
It is due reward for the likeable Lappin who hung in there under Roeder and proved the kind of solid character that the Canaries are likely to need in the third tier of English football.
“I'm delighted Simon has signed this new deal and extended his contract with the club,” the City boss told the official site, as the players completed Day Two of their pre-season fitness testing ahead of tomorrow's trip to the Royal Norfolk Show.
Gunn brought the one-time St Mirren star right back in from the cold after being given the complete cold shoulder by Roeder; tarred as one of the infamous 'Plymouth Brethren', most would have long ago walked out on the Canaries.
Lappin, to his credit, acted like a model pro; kept his head down and his nose clean and worked his way back into Gunn's affections.
He, you strongly suspect, will be one for The Gaffer to rely on when it comes to Yeovil Town (a).
“I told the manager I wanted to be here and I'm happy it's sorted,” Lappin told the club site.
“Although it might not always be the case, I want to play every minute of every game – and I've told the manager all along that I want to play for Norwich.”
In the meantime, the ranks of Ian Crook's reserve team were swollen by three more full-time professionals as Dario Dumic, Sam Habergham and David Stephens all signed pro deals with the Norfolk club.
Each have two-year deals to their name; each now have every chance to impress and make that leap from Youth team starlet to fully-fledged first team pro.
The fact that Crook is now going to be given the chance to mould their development on a more full-time basis as gunn and City No2 Ian Butterworth concentrate their own energies on first team affairs.
With the return of reserve league football to Carrow Road next season, the hope is that the new structure of dedicated coach and regular, competitive games can ensure that more of Ricky Martin's teenage starlets not only make the grade pro-wise, but then sustain their careers beyond that first deal.
“It's part of an ongoing process and recognises the success of the youth team,” said Gunn, after all three boys played their part in City's march to that FA Youth Cup quarter-final showdown with Manchester City.
“These three have certainly earned their opportunity, as has Declan Rudd, who signed a new three-year contract last week,” he added. “It proves that there is a way forward into the first team for our young players and it gives a message to all the young players coming into the club this week.”
Finally, one-time reported Canary target Miguel Angel Llera has – as expected – completed his switch to Charlton Athletic. Whether the 29-year-old free agent was ever targetted by City in terms of a double swoop with the newly-arrived Michael Nelson is a moot point; it may well have been a case of either/or.
As it is, the MK Dons centre-half is now earning a living at The Valley.
“I'm delighted Manuel has agreed to sign,” Addicks chief Phil Parkinson told the club's official site. “He's a good age for a centre-half and all the homework and meeting him confirmed he's a good character.
“He's a big centre-half who goes and attacks the ball, but has got good use of it with his left foot as well.”