What will be appearing through the Norwich City window?
Only 42 days to go – and with the festive season fading into the recesses, football managers will be able to get down to the serious business on the opening day of the January transfer window.
It's always an interesting and sometimes exciting time of the season.
In years past Norwich have done some serious business at the turn of the year – think Dean Ashton and Robert Earnshaw, who commanded fees in excess of �3m and �3.5m respectively.
Those days are long gone, with managers becoming wary of wasting money that isn't always there; not only is signing a player a generally expensive task, but the experiences of certain football clubs have proved that throwing money at new players doesn't always solve as many problems as it creates.
City manager Paul Lambert recently admitted he needed to bring in what he usually refers to as 'help' in the new year, although no one around these parts expects him to be spending huge sums.
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The theory goes that you need two players for every position, which may hold a clue or two as to where he may strengthen.
Loan player Leon Barnett is due back at West Brom on January 4. If Lambert can't prolong the successful partnership with Elliott Ward does he stick with the current complement – Ward, Michael Nelson, Jens Berthel Askou and Zak Whitbread – or does he seek a new replacement?
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Nelson was a regular until his injury forced the Barnett move, but Askou has been unable to command a starting place and Whitbread has struggled with injuries.
He has back-up for goalkeeper John Ruddy, he has two left-backs – and the option to use Simon Lappin there in an emergency, as he has done of late –but only one dedicated right-back, although Korey Smith could switch there.
In midfield he has sufficient personnel, but will be a happy man when Andrew Surman is fit to resume his Norwich career. Surman is almost certainly a regular starter, and while Stephen Hughes is another midfielder on the road back from injury, the Scot's starting place has never really been assured.
Whether Lambert plays the diamond or the conventional 4-4-2, there appear to be enough bodies to do the job. What we don't know is whether Lambert believes he can improve that area not necessarily in numbers, but in quality.
That leaves the strikers – and if the palpitations brought on by Grant Holt's red card at the weekend are anything to go by, then losing the skipper at any stage would be problematic.
Holt and Chris Martin were excellent in the first half at Reading, reviving memories of last season's exploits. That Holt hasn't scored with the same regularity as he did in League One is simple: the Championship is a better standard. No one should really be surprised. However, those signs at the weekend before his premature departure suggest he is finding his range.
Lose Holt and there is a bit of a problem: Oli Johnson still has 'L' plates, and so does Simeon Jackson to some extent. His pace is a great asset, but it's a big ask to fill Holt's or Martin's boots. Incidentally, Martin's work ethic on Saturday was top class, as was his finish and his all-round involvement.
So does Lambert need to reinforce up front? The general feeling is that he does, but goal-scoring strikers aren't two a penny. If they're any good, someone with a lot more money will have their eyes on them too.
Where Lambert shops will go some way to determining who he is up against. Interestingly, he has rarely 'punched above his weight' in terms of his transfer dealings. Of his 11 permanent transfers, only three players have come from clubs 'above' Norwich – keeper Ruddy from Everton, where he made only one appearance as a sub, in February, 2006; Surman, from Wolves; and Russell Martin from Peterborough, who at the time were in the Championship while City were in League One. Steve Smith came from the SPL and Rangers, where comparisons aren't as clear-cut.
While he may again look down the leagues which have served him so well, some of his rivals will be pushing a shopping trolley in a different direction.
The rumours have already started, and while we're not saying the following are true, they are out there:
• Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson will pay Huddersfield �1.2m for defender Lee Peltier who, in January 2008, had a trial with City but wasn't fancied by Glenn Roeder – although his former assistant Lee Clark took him to The Galpharm. Eriksson also wants West Brom striker Ishmael Miller on loan and Cameroon keeper Joslain Mayebi on a short-term deal.
• QPR's �900,000 midfielder Mikele Leigertwood will join struggling Preston on loan as will Stoke midfielders Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge.
• QPR want Blackburn striker Jason Roberts while Hull are interested in West Brom's unhappy striker Roman Bednar.
Come January 31 the picture should be clearer.