McVeigh and Lewis go out on loan
City striker Paul McVeigh will be joining fellow Championship side Burnley on loan for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, Joe Lewis has become the latest young Canaries player to go out on loan after completing a temporary switch to League Two promotion hopefuls Stockport County until the end of the season.
By CHRIS LAKEY
Paul McVeigh, Norwich City's longest-serving player, could be on his way out of Carrow Road after agreeing a loan move to Burnley yesterday.
The 29-year-old has moved to Turf Moor for the rest of a season which has again been highlighted by a lack of first-team starts - just six.
He fell from grace in City manager Peter Grant's first home game in charge, the 1-0 defeat of Cardiff in October, when he was sent off in the final minute, and the signs are that his contract, which expires this summer, could be his last.
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“Paul has been terrific since I came here,” said Grant yesterday. “The way he has approached the situation has been fantastic, he has been a 100pc terrific pro, but within the structure of how the team is at this moment in time, he's not been playing many games and I don't want to hold back his career.
“As I say, I feel it is important for him to get out and get some games under his belt with the end of the season coming rather quickly.”
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All of which would suggest that, rather than being allowed out on loan to get vital games under his belt - as reserve keeper Joe Lewis was yesterday - McVeigh is being put into the shop window.
McVeigh - who will not be eligible to play against City in the rearranged clash at Turf Moor on April 17 - is the last player from the Bryan Hamilton era left at Carrow Road, having signed from Spurs in March 2000.
A retired Northern Ireland international, McVeigh has made 236 appearances for City, including 75 as a substitute, scoring 40 goals.
In his first full season he was a first team regular, scoring nine goals, helping City to the play-off final and followed up as the leading scorer with 15 in 2002-03. He helped City to the Premiership the following year, scoring in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United in the first away game of the campaign, but that was his only goal during a season in which he started just three league games.
He was transfer-listed by Nigel Worthington at the beginning of the 2005-06 season - later to be taken off it - but a run of six goals in eight league and cup matches around Christmas was credited with keeping the manager in a job.
However, a player became such a huge favourite with fans courtesy of some mercurial skills, has failed to live up to past glories, although Burnley boss Steve Cotterill believes his experience could help keep the Clarets clear of the Championship drop zone.
“I am delighted to have signed Paul until the end of the season,” he said. “He is different to what we have already got and he can play out wide or up front so we get two options.
“He is clever with the ball and I am sure he will help us out over the coming weeks.”
The temporary departures of McVeigh and Lewis were the only City movements on deadline day, with safety virtually assured and Grant's squad up to scratch as far as injuries are concerned.
Lewis signed for League Two promotion hopefuls Stockport County until the end of the season. The 19-year-old keeper joins three others - Ryan Jarvis, who is at Leyton Orient, and his brother Ryan, who is at Rotherham, and Ian Henderson, who is also at Millmoor - in being farmed out to gain experience.
Grant has played five different first team keepers this season, with Lewis unable to advance further than the bench because of a lack of first team experience.
A move to Bury fell through, but now Stockport have stepped in at a crucial time.
On-loan keeper from Wolves, Wayne Hennessey, made headlines earlier this month when he helped the club to a League record nine games in a row without conceding a goal. It was a run of form which elevated Jim Gannon's side to sixth place in League Two the table and more importantly a play-off place - but Hennessey's loan from Wolves is set to end after the Easter Monday game against Chester - or earlier if Wolves invoke a 24-hour recall clause - increasing Lewis' chances of playing in a crucial run-in.
“Joe has been playing well for the reserves, but with Tony Warner and Paul Gallacher in the squad I felt it would be beneficial for him to get games in a first-team environment,” said Grant. “Stockport are going well and have a good chance of reaching the play-offs, so if he does play he will be tested both mentally and physically in a way which reserve team football just cannot offer.”