The summer transfer window came and went last night without City boss Paul Lambert adding a fresh face to his Premiership squad.
Until it re-opens again in January, the Scot will go with the devils he knows – and hope that Lady Luck decides to smile injury-wise, particularly in his centre-half department.
Movement as there was, came via the ‘Exit’ door as Cody McDonald’s future was finally resolved via a £400,000-plus switch to Coventry City, whilst Anthony McNamee was a late, late target for MK Dons.
The one-time Swindon Town winger moved on a free transfer as the midnight hour approached, by when the latest stage of Tom Adeyemi’s footballing education had been resolved with a loan move to Oldham.
Finally, midfielder Stephen Hughes has seen his contract cancelled by mutual consent making him a free agent; Oli Johnson is free to go out on loan to the Football League once the ‘emergency’ loan window opens later this month.
Lambert was clearly pondering dipping one, final toe in the transfer water after last weekend’s trip to Stamford Bridge delivered two more, temporary flies into his autumn ointment – a one-match ban for keeper John Ruddy after his red card and, more worryingly, a hamstring strain for American defender Zak Whitbread.
With the newly-arrived Daniel Ayala being ruled out for up to ‘a few months’ with the knee injury sustained in his Carling Cup debut for the Norfolk club and Elliott Ward still on the way back from his summer ankle trouble, so Lambert finds himself down to just two, match-fit centre-halves in the shape of Leon Barnett and the on-loan Ritchie de Laet.
For the home clash against West Bromwich Albion in 10 days time, he will also be down to just Declan Rudd in the senior goalkeeping department. All of which ensures that the manager’s Premier League learning curve will continue on its upward trajectory.
He will be so much the wiser for knowing who can – and cannot – step up the top flight plate this autumn.
Whether the right candidate – for either role – simply failed to materialise or whether Lambert just decided to go with what he’s got on the basis of Ward being close to a return is for the manager to know and others to guess.
He will also have one eye on that January transfer window; he needs to keep a certain amount of his powder dry for then.
Meanwhile, in the Midlands Coventry were celebrating the capture of McDonald.
“Deadline day couldn’t have gone better for me,” Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn told the Coventry Evening Telegraph overnight.
McDonald – plucked out of relative non-league obscurity by ex-City boss Bryan Gunn – had always figured large on his shopping list, apparently.
With 25 goals to his name whilst on loan at Gillingham last season, the 25-year-old one-time London Underground worker had caught the eye of many a suitor – Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough included.
In the end, however, with the likes of Simeon Jackson, Chrissy Martin and the recovering James Vaughan ahead of him in the Carrow Road queue, it was Coventry who won the race for McDonald’s signature.
“Cody was always my No.1 choice,” said Thorn. “I told the chairman I wanted him a couple of months ago and, to be fair, he’s gone and got him.
“He fits in with what we are trying to do here. He plays off the shoulder and gets in behind and, crucially, scores goals.
“He’s an exciting player who has a proven track record. We believe that he is capable of producing at this level and we are delighted to have him on board.”
Thorn’s delight was shared by his opposite number at Boundary Park, Paul Dickov after bagging the services of Adeyemi until January 3. His comments after the loan switch was confirmed suggest that the former Norwich School pupil still figures large in Lambert’s longer-term thinking.
“The biggest compliment came from Norwich manager Paul Lambert who told me had his side not been promoted to the Premier League, he [Adeyemi] would have played for them in the Championship this season,” said Dickov.
“I have had a number of conversations with Paul Lambert and know how highly regarded he is. We are very lucky to have him,” the Latics chief added.
“Tom is a player I have looked to get in for a long time and he will give us a lot of quality. He is an all-round box-to-box player who will add quality on the ball as he has an eye for a pass. Tom is also quick, while the physical aspect of League One will not be a problem.”