For my many, many media sins, I write a weekly column on all things ‘#ncfc’ for the Diss Express.
Being a weekly organ, the copy has to be with the sports desk by 9am on a Wednesday morning for the paper to be printed overnight. Or maybe, it’s printed on a Thursday and comes out on a Friday. I don’t know, to be honest.
All I know is that my 420-words of ‘wisdom’ has to be in their hands for early Wednesday morning. And if something ‘big’ breaks, I can get away with lunchtime.
So when City play on a Tuesday night, then you can squeeze in your thoughts and reflections on that performance – and not hark back to events of the previous Saturday.
When a game is on a Thursday night, that causes more of a problem. As it will do next week when the Canaries travel south for an evening out in IP1.
Which is why – not unreasonably – my lords and masters on the Diss Express were expecting a derby ‘preview’ by way of a column this week. Which they didn’t get.
Instead, it was all about Grant Holt and this Friday’s game against Nottingham Forest at Carrow Road. Which, in itself, tells something of its own story.
Maybe I’m wrong; maybe I’m too far out of the loop these days; the finger has slipped from the pulse. But my impression remains that – as important as any derby fixture remains in the footballing calendar of the folk north and south of the Waveney – the Canaries have their eyes fixed on two things right now.
One is a win against Forest; the other is the back of Holt’s leg – and the question of just how well or otherwise his hamstring is bearing up to the strain of carrying the Canaries to within touching distance of a return to the Premiership over the last 19, extraordinary months.
And after that, nothing – for now – really matters. Even the derby. That’s over the hill and far away; Forest is first.
And another round of Championship fixtures to follow on the Saturday is second.
Only then – once that dust has settled and the Canaries have re-adjusted to the new look of the second-spot landscape – will the derby game truly come into sharp focus. When it will matter as much as it ever has done; more, probably.
Before then, however, Norwich have bigger fish to fry; more important things to digest – not least this morning’s news that City boss Paul Lambert rated Holt’s chances of making the Forest game as ‘50/50’; that the feared long-term hamstring strain was but a ‘minor’ injury.
Such news will be pored over in an instant on the message-boards and Twitter feeds. Define ‘minor’? Is that a week? Or two? And ‘50/50’?
Is that merely a ploy to keep Billy Davies guessing going into a huge game for Forest as their own play-off ambitions hang in the balance after their stuttering spring form of late?
It also begs the question as to whether Sam Vokes is capable of stepping up to the plate and filling the big man’s boots. He has, at least, got one monkey off his back in the shape of that first goal in Canary colours away at Watford this week.
Charged with being G Holt for a week or more, could the on-loan Wolves striker actually come to out-shine Dani Pacheco? Goals win matches win tickets to the Premiership… Or at least he might, if Wolves don’t exercise their recall clause post-Portman Road.
The other big question that Lambert started to answer this morning concerned ‘Wessi’ and the fact that the Dubliner was ‘OK’ again; that his own hamstring concerns have been put to bed and he should come back into contention for the Forest game.
Under lights on a Friday night, Hoolahan’s mere presence on the team-sheet should lift the spirits again after being sorely missed in those last two away trips.
The little magician is back to wow his audience and with or without G Holt, you sense that the punters at least will view the contest with that little more confidence if their beloved playmaker is back in the mix.
And, finally, of course there’s Chrissy Martin. He, too, is now back and available again – adding to Lambert’s strike options if Holt misses out; if discretion proves to be the better part of valour when it comes to pushing the 30-year-old on too far, too soon and risk losing him for the rest of the season if his hamstring then does go properly twang.
But that’s the point – for now all thoughts are on that game against Forest and who, exactly, Lambert names on his team-sheet.
Little else really matters. And when you can say that ahead of a derby game now no more than a week distant, you know that something rather special is afoot.