It’s time to call for the loan arranger

JONATHAN REDHEAD IT'S fair to say the window of opportunity is definitely closing. With only a week to go until the end of the August transfer window, the likelihood of new signings at Carrow Road still looks fairly thin.


IT'S fair to say the window of opportunity is definitely closing.

With only a week to go until the end of the August transfer window, the likelihood of new signings at Carrow Road still looks fairly thin.

Of course, City boss Nigel Worthington and his board may have something well hidden up their sleeves, and will be more than happy to keep quiet about during the next few days.

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But as the bewitching hour of midnight on Thursday August 31 draws ever nearer, it seems that Lee Croft will prove to be the only new face to have stepped permanently through the big door at Carrow Road - which is far from revolving.

Only yesterday, Worthington played down reports of other potential signings including Colchester's Greg Halford, MK Dons' Izale McLeod and Manchester City's Frenchman Antoine Sibierski.

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Apparently, Halford is a no, McLeod is too expensive and Sibierski takes home too much in the way of wages.

So where does that leave City?

A big striker, a left-back and a goalkeeper are top of the wanted list, but not likely.

Which brings us on to the loan market and the options to bring in players when the transfer window is officially closed. Like all these things, there's always a way of working around the rule book and in this instance it means getting in players on a temporary basis, usually, youngsters from Premiership sides a la David Bentley a couple of seasons ago.

However, that too is starting to look a bit like a closed book. Earlier this summer there was talk of a relationship between City and Arsenal, and in particular the Gunners' assistant coach and Worthington's fellow Northern Irishman, Pat Rice.

That seems to have fallen by the wayside, as Arsenal youngster after Arsenal youngster seems to have made their way to Birmingham City.

If we look at other major players in the top flight, then Manchester United have already sent a couple of players to Rangers, Chelsea never seem to offer too many out, nor do the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Everton.

The main hope for loans may be a few weeks after the window closes, when the top teams have established their squads and there may well be a few more-than-capable professionals on the fringes of the action in the Premier League looking for regular first team action.

Whether they will be hungry enough for Worthington remains to be seen, and looking at his reasonably relaxed attitude to life at Colney at the moment, I'm sure we will see some action before next Thursday, whether it is fruitful is another thing. But while everyone is talking about who is coming in, I think the biggest loan issue at Norwich City remains on who could be going out.

It may have not grabbed the headlines, but now City's reserves have been forced to leave the Premiership Reserve League South, and are back in the Pontins Holiday Combination League, they only get to play about twice a month at a considerably lower standard against the likes of Oxford and Stevenage. That's where the likes of Ryan Jarvis, Ian Henderson, Andy Hughes, Leon McKenzie and all those on the fringes of the first team, are going to get a lot of their action.

And for my money, it showed on occasions down in Torquay on Wednesday night. While the aforementioned players all looked physically and mentally fit, some of them looked like they missed the match sharpness needed to compete in the Championship.

Granted, Torquay weren't up to much, but I felt a slight concern about what would happen if they needed to be drafted into the first team.

So although everyone wants players into the club, I would let the likes of Henderson and Jarvis go out on loan.

I'm fully aware that Norwich have a small squad, but a month here and a month there at the odd League One club would do the pair of them no harm whatsoever.

As far as I'm aware, 24 recall clauses can be put into loan contracts, so they could return to Carrow Road at the first sign of an injury crisis.

But at the stages they have reached in their careers, they need regular first team action. And I'd even go as far to say that it would give them a chance to play for their futures at the club.

They've gone beyond the tag of promising youngsters and now need to be forcing their way into the starting eleven on a regular basis or maybe their careers lie elsewhere - away from Norfolk.

City's youngsters have already proved they are capable of cutting it, with the likes of Rossi Jarvis, Andrew Cave-Brown and Michael Spillane putting in appearances in the first team and not looking out of place.

All eyes will be on the way in during the next week as Worthington finalises his plans before the transfer window reopens in January.

Yet, I would be having a little look at the exit door too.

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