Norwich City today limited their response to news of a reported bid for skipper Grant Holt to a little less than 140 characters.
In a sign of the changing media times, the club’s chief executive David McNally used City’s official Twitter channel to broadcast their response to this afternoon’s report in The Daily Mail that the Canaries had accepted a bid for the 30-year-old striker.
“Absolutely no truth in Daily Mail story saying we’ve accepted bid for Grant Holt from Leicester. Our captain’s not for sale,” was the ‘tweet’ from the chief executive’s office. And there, the hope was, the matter would end.
The Mail’s story was certainly right in at least one regard – that such a move would stun supporters.
The piece continued: ‘Sportsmail understands the Canaries have agreed a fee of around £2million with a Championship club, believed to be big-spending promotion favourites Leicester, for the burly hit-man.
‘Foxes’ boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has moved for Holt after losing out on Republic of Ireland ace Shane Long, who now looks certain to clinch an £8 million move to the Premiership…’
The 30-year-old, two-time Player of the Season has been one of the driving forces behind Norwich’s back-to-back promotions and was centre stage again in last night’s 1-1 draw with Real Zaragoza.
With Parma providing the final, dress rehearsal before the Canaries return to the big time with that away trip to Wigan on Saturday week, it would have been a complete bombshell had The Mail’s piece heralded Holt’s sudden exit.
Back in the North-West and Wigan will be fine-tuning their own preparations with a game against Villareal on Sunday.
Like Lambert, Latics’ boss Roberto Martinez has enjoyed a busy summer – the latest piece in his jigsaw is the signing of 26-year-old Wolves midfielder David Jones on a free.
Whilst Jones might not be a household name in Norfolk, his name will ring a bell with at least one of his opponents next weekend – City’s midfield anchor, David Fox.
For like Jones, the 27-year-old Canary star was also a product of the Manchester United Youth Academy; both were released; both picked themselves up and through a combination of both ability and attitude have clawed their way back into the top flight.
Both likewise know that this weekend’s final pre-season game of the summer is not one to miss; when it comes to the last dress rehearsal, do not forget your lines.
“It might be a pre-season friendly but it is a massive game for all of our players to show what they can do,” Jones told the Wigan Observer.
“It’s the last chance before the start of the season to change the manager’s thoughts on who will be lining up against Norwich.
“The manager has said from day one that places are up for grabs, and that goes for everyone. Everyone wants to be starting the season in the first XI and, although I’m a new player, I’ll be going all-out to make sure one of the shirts is mine.”
The lines could have come from any City player just as easily with boss Paul Lambert giving no clues as to who might figure large in that opener.
Most – if not all – of yesterday’s starting line-up are likely to figure large.
With Elliott Ward likely to miss the start of the season with a knee injury, it would make sense for Lambert to be bedding in Leon Barnett alongside Ritchie de Laet – albeit at the expense of Zak Whitbread.
At full-back, Kyle Naughton’s evident comfort on the left could give him the nod there with Russell Martin carrying on as per usual on the right. Fox looks the midfield fulcrum upon which many a City side will be built this season; Bradley Johnson could act as his left-sided ‘minder’ – particularly if Andrew Crofts’ fails to shrug off his current niggle over the next ten days.
Elliott Bennett can go to the right of the diamond; Wes Hoolahan to its tip. Leaving Holt and Steve Morison up top.
The unknown is the real match fitness of new-boy Anthony Pilkington who has all of 20 minutes ‘in the tank’ after his ankle dislocation playing for Huddersfield last March.
Whether a further run out against Parma will prove enough of a ‘top up’ to give him a starting gig against Wigan is one of the last remaining questions for Lambert and his No2 Ian Culverhouse to ponder.