Ricky van Wolfswinkel is the future. Wigan is the present for Norwich City

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Ricky van Wolfswinkel has scored 22 goals in 44 starts for Sporting since signing from FC UtrechtGettyImages

Not for the first time this season you left the company of Norwich City boss Chris Hughton sensing good vibes.

In the midst of the joyous fallout from concluding a club record deal for Sporting Lisbon's highly-rated young Dutch international Ricky van Wolfswinkel, the danger is to overlook the small matter of Wigan in the Premier League at the DW Stadium this weekend.

The Canaries have a rather comforting seven point gap over the modern-day escapoloigists currently third-from-bottom. The Latics have a league game in hand – albeit at soon to be dethroned champions Manchester City– but given Roberto Martinez's serial ability to navigate a path to safety through a myriad of seemingly insurmountable obstacles nothing can be taken for granted.

Norwich also have the extra insurance of five clubs situated between them and Wigan in the standings with eight tests left. All sound and justifiable logic, but lose in the north-west over Easter and those margins for error begin to contract at an alarming rate.

Which is why it will be comforting to those who rally behind the Canary cause to hear Hughton ever so diplomatically drawing a line under the van Wolfswinkel transfer bombshell. The focus now is on guaranteeing the 24-year-old joins a club set to embark on a third consecutive season of top flight football when his multi-million pound deal goes through on July 1. Inevitably large swathes of Hughton's pre-Wigan press call were dominated by a press pack intrigued by the audacious manner of Norwich's raid on the Portuguese capital for a player who was reportedly attracting admiring glances from clubs of the stature of Europa League quarter-finalists Tottenham and Newcastle.

Hughton confirmed the former Vitesse and Utrecht prodigy had spent three days in Norfolk recently where he was given the grand tour. His new manager was struck both by Van Wolfswinkel's enthusiasm and knowledge of his prospective employers. Hughton also labelled the acquisition a significant signing. Few would disagree given City have smashed their previous transfer record to smithereens. Such a piece of business also points to further forays into the summer market as Hughton and the club's board aim to refresh a squad to take them to the next level.

Yet all that hinges on these next eight league games. Norwich's squad of battlers have scrapped their way to a position of relative comfort ahead of the final surge for survival, but Wigan's ability to defy the odds on an annual basis underlines there is still work to do.

Hughton knows that better than anyone. Which is why the mantra now centres on a demand to re-focus. Not just inside the camp but outside. It would be inherently dangerous to feel the job has already been completed on the eve of a summer to savour. Norwich's hierarchy are absolutely right to accelerate their contingency planning for the future. Lisbon's political instability and financial difficulties presented an opportunity too good to miss for a player who had been Norwich's primary January target in the European sphere. But van Wolfswinkel is the future. It is the present that should concern the Canaries.

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