City boss Paul Lambert today brought the curtain down on his summer transfer dealings as the Canaries duly confirmed that 22-year-old Spurs defender Kyle Naughton would be arriving in Norfolk on a season-long loan deal.
The England Under-21 international’s arrival on Monday – as his new colleagues return from their pre-season tour to Germany – completes the seven new faces that Lambert set his heart on this summer.
James Vaughan, Steve Morison, Elliott Bennett, Ritchie de Laet, Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington and now Naughton will join the Class of 2010-2011 in trying to keep City’s hard-earned top flight status intact.
“We said we were looking for six or seven lads to come in and lend a hand in various positions – and it’s pleasing that we’ve now managed to do so,” said Lambert today, as the club formally confirmed Naughton’s imminent arrival.
“Kyle will come in and join his new team-mates on Monday and then the whole group can then continue working together on our pre-season preparations.”
That latter statement represents a major achievement for all concerned if that is, indeed, it transfer-wise.
To give yourself the better part of three full weeks where everyone can bed in together without the need to look over the shoulder to see who else might be hoving into view gives the Canaries a real head-start in terms of team-bonding and building.
It also gives Lambert and his right-hand man Ian Culverhouse the chance to play with various players in various positions long before a ball is every kicked in anger.
It has been one of the major strengths of his management style, that a Lambert squad can effortlessly swap from one formation to another as and when the game situation demands.
On the basis of this summer’s recruitment drive, that ability looks to have been reinforced with natural pace and width arriving en masse in the shape of Messrs Bennett, Pilkington and Naughton. On loan United defender de Laet is also no slouch.
More importantly still, Lambert now has three full weeks and a clutch of pre-season games in which to drill his squad in playing this way and that – from the diamond with Wes Hoolahan at the fore, to a flat midfield four with a Bennett to one side and a Pilkington to the other.
Who wins the race to occupy the two central midfield berths is firmly up for grabs; everyone has to earn their place ahead of that opening trip to Wigan; no-one, clearly, has a divine right to start.
Naughton’s natural athleticism clearly was one of his major plus-points.
City will also go into Premiership battle with legs on their side.
“He’s a pacy player,” Lambert told the club’s official website.
“And he’s also young and hungry to continue developing his career and we’re obviously pleased he’s now got the chance to do that with us here at Norwich City.”
De Laet and Naughton will, therefore, be the only two players that do not owe their full-time loyalty to the Norfolk side. Both, however, know that a decent season under Lambert’s charge will – in Laet’s case – help his cause no end at Old Trafford where Sir Alex Ferguson continues to carefully nurture the young man’s career, while Naughton may yet see his tour of duty at the far end of the A11 as an ideal way to showcase his talents if a first team start at Tottenham was – for now – beyond his means.
It also suggests that Henri Lansbury’s next career move won’t be back to Carrow Road; equally, the Canaries will head into battle without one, stand-out ‘star’ in their midst. Skipper Grant Holt is – for now – arguably the most familiar name to anyone outside the region.
That said, come the end of this season and many a young man could have made a big name for themselves – just as Charlie Adam did in the midst of Blackpool’s brave Premiership campaign. His individual efforts were rewarded this summer with a £7 million switch to Liverpool – a £6.5 million profit on a player they signed from Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 2009.
For the player himself, no doubt a money-spinning deal at Anfield followed – a switch that, financially, will probably set Adam up for life. Such are the rewards and the opportunities on offer in the Premier League for those young, hungry and talented enough to grab their chance with both hands.
In the meantime, City will wind up their trip to Germany tomorrow afternoon with a game against a Nordhausen/Regional Select XI in Teistungen, kicking off at 3pm.
The standard of opposition then ups another couple of gears with trips to first Crystal Palace and then Southend United next week; the week being rounded off with a trip to the Ricoh Arena and a game against Coventry City.
The home clash with Real Zaragoza at Carrow Road on Wednesday, August 3rd, will see Lambert starting to finalise his team plans; the final dress rehearsal ahead of Norwich’s return to the big time comes at home to the Italian side Parma on Saturday, August 6th.
The Canaries then have one, final week in which to prepare for that opening clash with the Latics.