Bookies bank on Birmingham City’s Chris Hughton to become Norwich City manager

Birmingham chief Chris Hughton has emerged as the clear front-runner to become Norwich City's new manager – after Malky Mackay ruled himself out of a possible return.

Mackay revealed he was 'flattered' to be linked with the Carrow Road vacancy but is committed to his job in south Wales.

Some leading bookmakers had suspended betting on Hughton succeeding Paul Lambert even prior to Mackay's announcement after reports in the Midlands that the Canaries were poised to launch an official approach.

City chief executive David McNally has placed a premium on previous top flight experience to help sustain the Canaries' impressive upward rise, and Hughton's stock remains high after his past success at Newcastle.

The 53-year-old is reportedly on a rolling one-year contract at St Andrews, where he guided Birmingham to the Championship play-offs last season despite major upheaval behind-the-scenes that forced him to operate under a transfer embargo. Birmingham's parent company is yet to file their most recent set of accounts with the Football League and Hong Kong-based owner Carson Yeung has had his business assets frozen by the courts over money laundering allegations.

McNally pledged to explore every avenue – both home and abroad – to unearth the right figurehead to build on City's mid-table Premier League finish after consecutive promotions under Lambert.

Hughton and Cardiff's Mackay have predictably been touted in the first wave, but City's former defensive lynchpin insisted he intends to remain in Wales for the foreseeable future.

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'I have started a long-term project and want to stay and finish it,' he said, with Norwich being reported to have made initial contact with the Bluesbirds.

'I am very flattered to be linked with the vacancy at Norwich City. They are and always will be a club close to my heart.

'I have a lot of good friends within the club and great respect for Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones. David McNally, the club's chief executive, has handled this situation well and is guiding Norwich in the right direction.

'However, I have started a project at Cardiff City. We have put in a structure for long-term success at this football club and we are still working on that.

'I work closely with chief executive Alan Whiteley, while Vincent Tan has put in major investment. I am fully committed to our football club and the challenges ahead.'