Earnshaw goes to Derby; Cureton returns to City

Norwich saw a change in their frontline today after Robert Earnshaw completed a £3.5m switch to newly-promoted Derby County, and last season's leading Championship goalscorer Jamie Cureton made a homecoming to Carrow Road for an undisclosed fee.

Norwich saw a change in their frontline today after Robert Earnshaw completed a £3.5m switch to newly-promoted Derby County, and last season's leading Championship goalscorer Jamie Cureton made a homecoming to Carrow Road for an undisclosed fee.

The first news out of Carrow Road this afternoon was that Earnshaw was off after the Rams took advantage of a buy-out clause in his contract with City. The Canaries' official website revealed that when Earnshaw agreed to join the Canaries in January 2006, with a price tag of £3m, he did so on the condition that he would have permission to speak to any club offering £3.5m or more in the event that Norwich failed to win promotion in seasons 2005/2006 or 2006/2007.

After the Rams tabled their offer yesterday, Earnshaw made his way up to Pride Park to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms. The deal was finalised shortly before 3pm today.

The news was followed hot on its heels by the announcement that Colchester United's Jamie Cureton, 31, was heading back to Carrow Road.

Cureton began his professional career at City almost 13 years ago. As a youngster, Cureton scored 135 goals in 187 games at youth and reserve level. Last season he topped the Championship's scoring table with 23 goals.

Norwich boss Peter Grant expressed his disappointment at the news at losing Earnshaw, who bagged 19 goals for City last season.

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He said: "I'm very disappointed to be losing Robert. We are trying to do what we can to maintain a promotion challenge and Robert was very much part of that.

"All players want to be in the Premier League and I understand Robert's reasons to want to go to Derby."

Grant said the club were made aware of Derby's interest midweek, with a firm offer only landing on the table on Thursday.

"We were not informed of Derby's interest until late on Wednesday evening and the next day we received an offer at exactly the level of Robert's buy-out clause, which is disappointing and somewhat ironic."

Norwich City chief executive Neil Doncaster confirmed funds raised from the sale of Earnshaw would go straight back into Grant's transfer budget, with the £2m loaned Andrew and Sharon Turner last month ensuring player funds would not be used to balance the books.

"We are sorry to be losing a player of Robert's ability, but the search for other players goes on as we try to maintain a promotion challenge this coming season," said Doncaster, who revealed the buy-out clause in Earnshaw's contract had been a critical part of signing him in the first place.

"We made it clear when Andrew and Sharon Turner put the £2m into the Club that any money raised from player sales would go back into Peter's budget. All of the Earnshaw money will go back to Peter Grant.

"In common with many players these days, Robert had a buy-out clause in his contract with us at £3.5m. The precise terms of that clause were critical to Robert's arrival here in January 2006 and without the buy-out clause he would not have come here."

Earnshaw thanked Canaries fans for their support - but said the lure of the Premiership had proved too great to resist.

He told the official Norwich site: "I've really enjoyed my time at Norwich City. I would like to thank all the fans for their brilliant support. They've been so good to me.

"I wanted to be part of Norwich's promotion challenge this season, but the lure of Premiership football this season was too great. I wish Norwich every success in the future."

Incoming Jamie Cureton said he was "delighted" with the move back to Norwich.

"There's been a lot of speculation and other clubs have been interested, but it was always Norwich that I wanted to come back to," he told canaries.co.uk.

"I scored a lot of goals at youth and reserve level here and managed to get a few goals in big games for the first team. But if I'm honest I didn't really feel my first team career got going here and I'm determined to put that right this time."

"I managed to finish as top scorer in the Championship last season and that's what I've got to be aiming for again with Norwich," he said. "With the quality of players we have in the squad there's no reason why I should not get a lot of goals and no reason why we shouldn't be going all out for promotion.

"I will be 32 in August but I still have plenty in the locker, don't worry about that. I'm probably playing the best I have ever played at the moment and I'm raring to go. I'm ambitious and I want to get to the Premiership with Norwich.

"It's a great club and the stadium and the facilities have improved even more since I was here before. I can't wait to get cracking with the rest of the lads in training to be honest."

Earlier this month Cureton issues a come-and-get-me plea to Peter Grant.

“If Norwich are interested I would obviously be keen talk to them, definitely,” said Cureton. “It's all down to Colchester and Norwich and whether or not they can do business.

“I have always said Norwich would be my preference because it is where I started as a kid and I owe them a lot and at the same time I probably did not do myself justice in the first team. If given the opportunity I would like to have another crack and do things differently.