The Canaries today moved one step closer to signing Leeds skipper Jonny Howson as City chief Paul Lambert revealed that the 23-year-old had now passed his Carrow Road medical.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s mouth-watering home clash against Chelsea, the Canary boss refused to see Howson’s signature as a ‘done deal’.
But with the former England Under-21 star in the building and firmly within the Colney fold, it looked only a matter of time before personal terms were agreed and that Howson would follow his ex team-mate Bradley Johnson in carving out a Premiership name for himself in Norfolk.
Whether he is formally unveiled in front of yet another Carrow Road full house tomorrow remains to be seen. But knee injury or no injury, Lambert at least appears to have been able to add one piece to his ever-evolving jigsaw this window.
“He came through a medical, but I’m never quite sure until somebody signs,” Lambert told the club’s official website today.
“I’m pretty sure it’s nearly all there, but I’m never sure until its done.”
The interesting thing about Howson is how much he fits the Lambert ‘mould’ in the sense of being young, hungry and with a point to prove.
And the fact that, at 23, he’s worn the skipper’s armband for the Whites.
In that he is far from alone. Andrew Crofts skippered Brighton; Russell Martin skippered Peterborough. Lambert buys strong characters and Howson looks straight out of central casting in that regard.
“They are a fantastic club, Leeds, and to be captain at such a young age means that he certainly knows what he is doing.
“And I think he will add goals to the midfield, which I think we need, and if he does he will do great for us.”
He is, of course, still nursing a knee injury sustained in the first week of December.
Unlike Chelsea’s £7 million new-boy Gary Cahill, he will not be making his debut at Carrow Road tomorrow. The injury, Lambert said, was coming on nicely.
Phase him in through February might be the manager’s intention.
“His rehab is going well and he is not too far away,” said Lambert, who – ideally – will also have the services of both James Vaughan and Elliott Ward to call upon before the next month is out.
It all tees the Canaries up very nicely for the visit of the big-spending Blues as City look to make home advantage count against one of the Premiership’s finest.
Not quite top, top drawer this season as they look to rebuild under a new manager, but still one of those against whom you’d bite your arm off for a point.
Lambert was – as ever – under few illusions as to the task that awaited.
“We are playing one of the best teams in Europe,” he said. “But we had a really good game against them at Stamford Bridge in August and we’ll give it everything we’ve got to try and win.”
Lambert – his new signing notwithstanding – has a whole raft of options at his disposal. As ever, much attention will focus on who he pairs with who up front as Steve Morison, Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson fight for the manager’s favour.
After his winner against West Bromwich Albion last week, Morison looks a certain starter. The question then is whether Lambert gives Holt or Jackson the nod – or whether he drops Wes Hoolahan in the hole off a lone striker.
The advantage there, of course, is that Hoolahan knows how to look after the ball and given the opposition, it might be in Norwich’s best interests to starve their visitors of possession as much as possible and, equally, once they are on the ball, not to surrender it cheaply.
Either way, it promises to be quite an afternoon in Norfolk – particularly now that Lambert is starting to add further cards to his Premiership survival pack.