Barnett boost for Lambert
Paul Lambert's pursuit of Leon Barnett received a boost yesterday when he was told the West Brom defender was free to extend his loan at Carrow Road.
The Canaries boss has been in dialogue with the Baggies and has freely admitted he wants the 24-year-old to stay beyond January 4, when his current loan deal expires.
Barnett is of the same mind –admitting at the weekend that it was 'a great feeling to be loved'. And now Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo has given him the go-ahead to continue his Carrow Road love affair.
Di Matteo also has Luke Moore on loan at Derby – and says both players are free to stay put.
'If we can agree deals we are open to them both staying where they are for longer,' he said. 'We need to keep our other players because we can't loan, so I wouldn't expect anyone else to go out.'
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Lambert didn't hide his admiration for Barnett after the defender scored the equaliser in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Leeds.
'I thought he was excellent,' he said. 'I think Leon Barnett has been huge for us and his goal was terrific and well deserved.'
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However, he admitted that finances could be a stumbling block –particularly as City's injury problems forced him into the loan market again on Monday when he signed Arsenal youngster Henri Lansbury on a 28-day emergency deal.
'You are in a Catch 22,' he said. 'You either don't try it and he goes back and you accept mediocrity, which I don't want to accept. He is West Brom's player so they call the shots, but we will try.'
Di Matteo's public admission over Barnett, and the player's form, may have an unwanted side-effect –competition for his signature.
The opening of the January transfer window is a little over five weeks away and that may interest from elsewhere in the Championship and the top flight.
Barnett's desire to stay and Lambert's desire to keep him now have to stand the financial test.
Barnett's contract at West Brom expires next summer, four years after he was signed for a �2.5m fee from Luton Town, but the Baggies have the option of extending that for a further year.