City vice-skipper Michael Nelson this afternoon declared himself fit and raring to go ahead of Saturday's League One opener against Colchester United.
The 27-year-old former Hartlepool skipper was the big absentee from last weekend's 3-2 win over Premiership Wigan Athletic – Norwich's final dress rehearsal for this Saturday's real deal.
But having now fully shaken off the concussion he sustained in the midweek win over Crystal Palace, the only headache this week has been Ian Butterwoth's insistence that Monday morning was… heading practice.
“I'm fine – brilliant,” said Nelson, speaking at this afternoon's final of the Aviva X-Box challenge at The Forum.
“Obviously I had a knock, but I sat out for a couple of days and started training again fully on Monday. And no – no ill effects,” added the six-foot two-inch centre-half as his former Victoria Park coach did him few favaours.
“Ian Butterworth's put on a couple of heading sessions this week,” he said with a wry smile. “And I got through that – and everything's well.”
With the club today announcing that they and Serbian centre-half Dejan Stefanovic were looking to wrap up his contract a year early, so Nelson is likely to figure ever more large in Bryan Gunn's thoughts this autumn.
The fact that he has already been handed the vice-captain's 'armband' proof enough of the first team role assigned for the no-nonsense defender; which, in turn, might explain Stefanovic's thinking – particularly now that the City boss has also added the left-sided Dane Jens Berthel Askou to the party.
Either way, as Stefanovic prepares to pack his bags, so Nelson is simply looking forward to getting down to the real thing this weekend. He's more than ready to rumble.
“To be honest, I think the way that the lads have been playing and the results that they've been getting, they've been ready to go for a week to ten days.
“I think the boys would have been quite happy to go last week, but that extra week has got us that good result on Saturday – and not a good result, but a good performance – and that just gives us that little bit extra confidence going into the season.”
Not that beating Premiership Wigan wholly prepares Norwich for what awaits over the course of the next nine months; Yeovil (a) in the Carling Cup next week requires a wholly different skill set to that on show against Roberto Martinez's neat, footballing Latics.
Given his experience of the Football League's nether reaches, Nelson is well-placed to judge just what last weekend's result means.
“A lot of the games that we've played are going to be completely different to what we're going to come up against,” said Nelson, the 1-1 draw against a Manchester United XI being another case in point.
“But you can't take away the fact that we've been unbeaten in pre-season and we've got quite a few wins; so to get that winning feeling is good.
“It puts you on a high and it let's you sample it before the season kicks off – and it just feels nice to win in pre-season. And if you can get that consistently, then it's going to feel a lot better in the league.”
No big predictions, but the thoughts of a man that's walked the League One block a few times before are probably worth more than most.
“It's a very strong squad,” he said simply. And more importantly, it's a fresh squad. Of the side that featured at The Valley – or didn't feature at The Valley – only Gary Doherty and Adam Drury are likely to start this weekend. Everyone else wasn't there…
“I've read a couple of things in the last few days about people thinking about a 'hangover' from the relegation season.
“But the squad's been freshened up so much, that I don't really think that there's too many players left from the relegation season; there's been a good influx of players come in – and it's not just numbers; it's quality as well.
“And there's players that have had successful times as well.”
The Luton Two of Chrissy Martin and Michael Spillane have both now been to Wembley and won; Matty Gill has back-to-back promotions to show for his spell at Exeter City.
“And there's lads that have played at this level and done well, so, hopefully that'll stand us in good stead.”
Then, of course, there is the 'leadership' issue. Owain Tudur Jones was earmarked for bigger things by Wigan boss Martinez earlier in the week; Nelson knows what it is like to lead from the front… the list goes on.
“Am I seeing leaders? Yes – definitely,” he said.
“Obviously you've got Gary Doherty who has got the armband; I captained Hartlepool for the last couple of seasons; Matty Gill was the captain of his former club.
“There's a lot of talking that goes on on the training pitch. And when we go into the games as well there's a good mix of young and experienced players… Gary Doherty, myself, Adam Drury. And other players who have played a lot of games. So there's a lot of leaders out there.
“And there'll be a lot of leaders who won't even make it to the starting XI but will be needed throughout the course of the season.”