Three big questions for Grant

City boss Peter Grant confirmed this week that he wants to bring in three or four new signings in the January transfer window - without, he hopes, losing any of his current squad unless they go out on loan.

City boss Peter Grant confirmed this week that he wants to bring in three or four new signings in the January transfer window - without, he hopes, losing any of his current squad unless they go out on loan.

Three big questions automatically follow that assertion.

Firstly, without selling, will he have the kind of money available to recruit players of the quality he needs?

Secondly, which positions does the manager think are in most urgent need of strengthening?

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And thirdly, will the Canaries be in the kind of challenging position in the Championship table at the start of 2007 necessary to make the move attractive enough for the men they want to bring in?

In the first case, City, understandably, do not intend to tell the world how much cash is at Grant's disposal.

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Despite assurances from the club that there would be new faces - plural - in the summer, the lack of transfer activity suggested, to borrow a line from Simply Red (should that be Simply in the Red?), that money's too tight to mention.

For example, striker Steve Howard, who has so far banged in nine goals for Derby in less than half a season, was considered by City - though not by former boss Nigel Worthington - to be worth only about a third of the £1m the Rams paid for him.

Only winger Lee Croft arrived before the start of the season for £600,000 from Manchester City, but once the sales of goalkeeper Robert Green and striker Leon McKenzie had been finalised, the Canaries were prepared to give Worthington more than £2m on the last day of August to buy David Cotterill from Bristol City.

The move fell through, but despite the subsequent arrival at Colney of Dion Dublin, on a contract until the end of the season, and Luke Chadwick, on loan from Stoke with a view to a permanent move, one would hope a fair chunk of that £2m is untouched.

How much more may be in the kitty, only January will tell, but supporters will not be holding their breath.

“I have not got £25m to bring in a striker, but I will try and get the best player for the finances we have got available,” said Grant on Thursday. If he could make a signing on the scale of City's last two big January buys, £3m Dean Ashton and £2.75m Robert Earnshaw, it would be a huge boost, but does he even have enough for that? And what will it leave for other deals?

Which brings us to question two - which positions most need strengthening? All of them, seems to be the answer.

Grant was asked this week where he would prioritise. “Everywhere,” he said, more an acknowledgment of the lack of depth in his squad than a criticism of his current players.

If he wants four new signings, one might cover all options with a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker, but it's probably too simplistic.

Lee Camp, whose loan spell from Derby ended today, has already been mentioned by Grant as a possible recruit in January. A loan deal for the rest of the season is one option if a permanent move is not agreed.

A left-sided player could be another priority, Grant suggested, and given that emergency centre-half Dion Dublin and club captain Craig Fleming have a combined age of 72, he may want an extra central defender as additional back-up for Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell.

And it would be something of a surprise if Grant did not seek some kind of extra firepower as support for Earnshaw - always assuming, of course, that the Wales international is here to stay, a wish he expressed this week.

Said Grant: “Something I've definitely got to look at is that the quality of the player you bring in is better, also that I get the right types of player that you can utilise within the squad.

“I've got two right-siders in Croft and Chadwick. Hopefully when they're fully fit I feel we'll be comfortable there.

“On the left-hand side, maybe we could do with another one, that's the way you try to balance your squad. Strikers - have we got enough of them? Central midfield players, have we got enough? And defenders, I look and say have we got enough cover at the back? I'm not so sure, not if I want to use our strikers as strikers.”

Finally, City's league position could also have a major bearing on their ability to entice new faces to Carrow Road.

At the moment, the Canaries' season is neither one thing nor the other. A record of eight wins, eight defeats and a sprinkling of draws before today's visit of Sheffield Wednesday is classic mid-table form.

The ratio of victories has certainly improved under Grant, but City will need to have tipped the balance more in favour of the wins column by the time they leave Crystal Palace on New Year's Day if they are to wear the look of a side going places and make themselves a more attractive proposition to potential signings.

Any likely January target will probably look at the Championship table before putting pen to paper. At the moment, if only from the table, he would need some convincing that a promotion challenge and the possibility of Premiership football were just round the corner.

t It's that time of year again when the BBC start patronising lower division clubs by giving them elevated status in live TV games and on Match of the Day.

Then, when the last potential giant-killers have been eliminated from the FA Cup, they can go back to the usual practice of pretending nothing worth covering exists outside the glamorous world of the Premiership.

There is only one reason why Tamworth v Norwich City has been chosen as the live match with a lunchtime kick-off on third round day, Saturday, January 6.

It's because the BBC are hoping for a shock result so they can add another example of David beating Goliath to the dusty archive that includes games such as Hereford v Newcastle, Colchester v Leeds, Sutton v Coventry and Wrexham v Arsenal.

The Canaries have been set up before as potential fall guys, but thankfully, they refused to play ball.

Their trip to Yeovil, then a non-League side with a famous sloping pitch, was a Match of the Day choice on third round day in 1980, but John Bond's team proved party poopers and won 3-0.

Carrow Road was the next stop for Sutton in 1989 after beating Coventry, but they were thumped 8-0 in the fourth round, with the highlights once more shown on Saturday night.

Only four seasons ago, when City struggled to beat Conference side Dagenham & Redbridge with a late goal by Zema Abbey, were they almost caught with their trousers down in front of the cameras.

At least the coverage at Tamworth will enable thousands of City fans to see the whole match live, instead of merely the 800 who can get their hands on tickets.

And let's hope they will have more to cheer than those who witnessed the last early start at Portman Road three weeks ago.

After that X-certificate show, they would settle for The Silence of the Lambs.

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