Grant: Hucks stays

CHRIS LAKEY New Norwich City boss Peter Grant gave Darren Huckerby a ringing endorsement yesterday, insisting that the popular striker - reportedly attracting more attention from Celtic boss Gordon Strachan - was here to stay.

CHRIS LAKEY

Darren Huckerby won't be leaving Norwich City when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The Canaries wide man had always maintained that if City failed to renew his deal, he would quit football.

But new boss Peter Grant gave the 30-year-old a ringing endorsement yesterday, insisting that the popular striker - reportedly attracting more attention from Celtic boss Gordon Strachan - was here to stay.


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“There is only one thing I'll tell you,” said Grant. “I want Darren Huckerby to be here, that's guaranteed.

“Darren Huckerby has nothing to prove to me - I want him here.”

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Asked whether he would be making Huckerby an offer to stay, Grant said: “For sure. I don't need to speak to him, the biggest thing is he's in the team - that is proof to him that he is very, very much part of my future. Hopefully we can keep him here.”

Money is unlikely to be a sticking point, although Huckerby could earn more with a move to Celtic.

“As I said I will always work with the club, but I want the best players here,” said Grant. “I want to go back to the Premier League and I want the best players here and Darren Huckerby is one of them.

“There will be no stone unturned to try and keep him here. He is a big part of what my plans are - he's a massive player for us, you pull you hair out with him at times but he's a match winner and you can't have enough of them.”

There are other players to consider at the end of this season, with Grant prepared to give them all a chance.

“I will be looking at them,” he added. “All of the players I feel are capable of taking us to the next level I want here. It's been quite a hectic week. I only came in on Monday so I have still to meet Neil (Doncaster) and Kevan (Platt) and the chairman and sit down and thrash out what exactly we can do. But there is no doubt I want the best players here.

“I will have a look and see what players are out of contract. Darren Huckerby is definitely one to keep here, we will pull out all stops to keep him here.”

Huckerby has been an essential ingredient in the team since Nigel Worthington turned a successful loan move into a permanent one halfway through City's promotion season, in December, 2003.

And while he has often been linked with a reunion with Strachan, his former boss at Coventry, it seems Norfolk has secured its grip on the player.

“I could have left a season ago to go to them,” he said. “It is well documented I am good friends with Gordon, but that's where it ends. I am looking to have at least another year here, so that's where I am at at the minute.

“I am happy here. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I have been to a lot of clubs and I have been quite successful at other clubs, but I feel like I have a real bond with the people from around here and I can't see the point of changing that, just for more money, because that's all it would be. I've been very lucky in my career to have played for some big clubs.

“The only decision for me would be to leave for more money and I don't really need that much more money.”

All Huckerby appears to require is that the matter is sorted out quickly.

“It's good news because we don't know where we are when a new manager comes in, but I have always made my case that I want to stay,” he said. “I wanted to get it sorted out as soon as possible, we don't want to be leaving until January when the vultures start flying above. It is up to the club to hopefully get things moving.

“I am here to the end of the season whatever, I won't be leaving in January. If there is an offer put in in January it doesn't really matter. I prefer to get it done sooner rather than later but hopefully not until the last minute.”

Huckerby was praised by Worthington for effectively trying to keep him in a job in his last few games in charge, and there was no let-up at QPR last Saturday and Birmingham on Tuesday.

“It's been a different approach, I think he has put a lot of confidence in the players,” said Huckerby. “We haven't got that many different players to pick from so he's going to have his work cut out, definitely until January and probably then until the end of the season. But we have a good nucleus of players here so we have to try and get the best out of them.

“It was time for the players to step up and be counted. We know we are better than where we are and it's down to all of us, not just the new manager and the staff, we all have to start winning games. Tuesday night was a big start.”

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