City boss Bryan Gunn today unveiled two fresh faces to the players at Colney – one of whom would have been all-too familiar to some as ex-City star Paul McVeigh returned to Norfolk.
Up at the Royal Norfolk Showground and City's new chief executive David McNally was unveiling a new signing of his own as insurance giants Aviva extended their club sponsorship deal for another year.
And with Gunn hopeful of adding another 'two to three faces' to his squad within the next week or so, the Canaries were clearly intent on hitting the ground running as they kick off their preparations for life in League One in earnest.
“Paul's joined us for pre-season training,” revealed Gunn, this morning ahead of the players' own appearance at a sun-drenched Royal Norfolk Show.
Out of contract this summer after his two-year spell at Kenilworth Road, the 31-year-old one-time Northern Ireland international made 20 appearances for the Hatters alongside the Luton Two of Chrissy Martin and Michael Spillane, scoring three goals in the process.
Gunn confirmed that the arrangement was very much of the 'Look see…' variety; that McVeigh would look to keep himself fit with the Canaries, whilst the Canaries would likewise have the chance to see just what he still had to offer. And, for now, that was as far as it went.
“It's open ended, really,” he said. “Paul and I had a chat over the summer and he obviously told me about his contractual situation and I said: 'Come in and join us for pre-season…'
“No strings attached either way, but if he impresses – not only me, but the other coaches – who knows? But it gives Paul an opportunity to keep his fitness going; I'm sure he'll be speaking to other clubs as well; other managers.
“But he's living locally so it does no harm and it helps us in terms of numbers. Open ended.”
The other new-boy was Cambridge City winger Scott Neilson who, Gunn confirmed, had something of the Michael Kightly's about him style-wise.
If the fleet-footed Lilywhites star can much the kind of impact that the one-time Grays Athletic winger has had at Wolves, then he will have found another non-league gem. But the ball is firmly in Neilson's court; he has his trial; his chance; his opportunity. All he has to do is take it.
“He's on trial so it depends how it goes,” said Gunn, quizzed as to what next for the young man.
“He's looked sharp and looked fit in the testing. I haven't seen him with a ball at his feet for Norwich City yet, but that'll happen over the course of the next week. And then we'll see how it goes.
“Obviously we've got friendly games coming up; Fakenham on the Friday night and then we're off to Dartford on the Saturday [part of the Cody McDonald deal] so if things go well we might get permission from Cambridge City to ask him to play in those games as well.”
And style-wise? “He's hit the ground running very quickly here – he is a very quick player. Very busy.
“And he can score a goal. He will take people on; he will get past people; get crosses into the box,” said Gunn, as he looks to fill the gaping hole that Lee Croft left.
“It just shows you that if you do scour the lower leagues that there are players there that might just surprise you and are able to make the step [up]. So we'll watch him closely; there's no guarantees; it was an invitation to come to pre-season training – but he looks like a lad that wants to be a football player.”
McVeigh and Neilson might not be the only fresh faces; the pace of business – both in and out – is likely to quicken, claimed Gunn.
“Obviously we're hoping that there'll be some new faces coming in in the course of the next week or so, but also I'll mention that there might be a few faces going out. So there might be some more changes in the dressing room yet,” he added.
With managers and chief executives back behind their desks now, said Gunn, was the time when the pace of transfer activity would up a couple of gears.
“This is when the phones will start ringing and as we see on the ticker-tape on SkySports, people are signing their contracts on the 1st July. So, yes, it's going to start to happen now and it's very exciting.
As for the extended Aviva deal, McNally was clearly delighted that the re-branded insurance giants had continued to stay firmly behind the club despite their recent fall from Championship grace.
The orginial tie-in with what still is to most people Norwich Union was signed in 2008 on a three-year basis; that deal has now been extended through to the end of the 2011-12 season.
“This further extension to the deal is fantastic news and a great commitment of support to the club at a really challenging time for us – and for football in general,” McNally told the club's official website this afternoon.
“We have been pleased to work hard with Aviva to help make this partnership a successful one for both them and the club and will continue to do so in the months and years ahead.”
For Aviva, the company's director of business development John Kennedy highlighted the impact the on-going sponsorship deal has had within the local community.
“That is our core objective,” said Kennedy. “Many groups and individuals have benefitted over the past year – junior footballers, schools, local charities, fans, our staff and our business partners.
“So we are very pleased with what we have achieved in our first year as the main club sponsor.”
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