City boss Paul Lambert looks set to welcome Darel Russell back in from the cold for tomorrow night's Johnstone Paints Trophy opener against Brentford after this morning revealing that new-boy Matty Gill could be sidelined for “at least a couple of months” with a knee injury.
With Owain Tudur Jones likewise sidelined for “a couple of weeks”, Lambert suddenly finds himself a little short in that midfield area – particularly for as long as he remains wary of asking kids to do a man's job on a regular basis.
Hence the return of Russell to the fold.
“Matt's injury is not nasty – it's just going to take time to heal. So it could be a little while before we see him back,” admitted the Canary chief, buoyed by Saturday's comfortable 2-0 success at Hartlepool.
The fact that Russell had suggested that he didn't necessarily see his footballing future at a Victoria Park cut little ice with the new boss following a 'chat' last Friday.
“I spoke to him on Friday and he was totally fine,” said Lambert. “If he's here, then I have to have an opportunity to see him playing.
“I just don't want somebody sitting here and the club giving them money for just being about the place. They either put their shoulder to the wheel – or they can come and see me. It's not a problem.”
He hadn't, in fairness, repeated his want-away thoughts again.
“He hasn't told me that so whether he's told the last manager that or somebody else – I don't know. But he's training with us – he's just a normal member of the squad.”
Ditto, Maric. “Goran has been training with us as well and we'll have a look at him tomorrow to see what he can do.”
It is, it appears, all part of Lambert's steep learning curve; just what can these boys do in a game situation?
As much as he might now know what they can each deliver on the training ground, there ain't nothing like the real thing. Even if it is the Johnstone Paints Trophy in front of an expected audience of some 8,000 to 9,000.
Hence the expected appearances for both Russell and Maric in the Bees clash.
“One or two can come in so I can have a look at [them],” he said. “I can have a little look at them and see how they do.”
David Stephens was one of the younger squad members to find himself on the bench at Victoria Park as the likes of Doherty and Hoolahan made way for another clutch of Academy products. Lambert is, however, wary of expecting too much too soon from his teenage army.
“The squad is really big, but you've got a lot of young kids there and you just can't keep throwing everybody in at the same time. They need a bit of help; so there'll be some of the experienced ones that will play and some of the young ones will have a rest.”
That statement suggested that both Korey Smith and Tom Adeyemi might enjoy a quiet night as Lambert casts his eye over Russell. With both Gill and Tudur Jones out injured, he has little option but to turn to Russell now that the reported interest from Premiership Burnley appears to have cooled.
“You just can't keep on throwing the young ones in and for them to carry the club – they need a bit of help,” said Lambert.
As for the looming transfer deadline, he admitted that there were one or two irons in the fire.
“You're never sure,” he said. “But we're trying to do something – we'll try our best to try and get somebody in. If not, then we'll just go with the lads that we've got at the minute.”
It might, he conceded, require one to leave before another one could come in. Wes Hoolahan (Swansea) and Gary Doherty (Watford) were the two names on the exit list; Dejan Stefanovic is, of course, looking for his contract to be settled up and be on his way.
As, of course, could on-loan Spurs keeper Ben Alnwick. He will – again – require a 'fitness test' at Tottenham's behest before a decision is made on whether or not he features tomorrow night. He has, likewise, been linked to a full-time switch to Burnley; at which point Fraser Forster will be the man in charge of that No1 jersey.
“You've always got that in the back of your mind that that can happen with loan players,” said Lambert. “But if it does happen, there's not much that we can actually do to stop that because he's Tottenham's player.”
As for Hoolahan and Doherty, he had had no offers; whether they will feature against the Bees is still up in the air. “I haven't decided yet what I'll do. As I say, some lads will come in – I need to see Darel Russell playing; I need to see Maric playing. So those two lads will maybe get a shot at it.”
One who definitely won't get a shot at it is teenager Kris Renton who this morning set the transfer deadline machine in motion when he joined Jim Duffy's Brechin on loan until the end of the year.