Delia - the loan arranger

CHRIS WISE Norwich City announced a different sort of loan deal - one that has brought a new player to Carrow Road on a permanent basis!


Norwich City announced a different sort of loan deal yesterday - one that has brought a new player to Carrow Road on a permanent basis!

According to the Canaries, manager Nigel Worthington has already used up his transfer budget for the season, but that didn't prevent him from completing a £50,000 move for Sunderland midfielder Carl Robinson, who has been with the club on a temporary basis since the end of November.

Funding for the deal was provided by majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones and boardroom colleague Michael Foulger, who lent the club money to buy the player and pay his wages for the remainder of the season.

Worthington joined chief executive Neil Doncaster in praising the directors for their backing - and is now hoping he might be given another little helping hand before the end of the January transfer window.

“I am grateful for the board's support - and I have just got to make sure I spend wisely to ensure they get the best value for their money,” said the City boss as he once again talked up the prospect of players coming in rather than them moving in the opposite direction.

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“If we can do something we will - as we have shown with Carl Robinson - but if we are not sure then we won't do it.

“I'm not sure how much was in the transfer budget. I have spent £750,000 and if that's it gone then that's it gone. But any more money the club can provide will really help and we'll keep working together to try and get some more in if we can.”

Revealing details of the transfer, Doncaster added: “The cash to sign Robinson has been raised through loans to the club from directors Delia Smith, Michael Wynn Jones and Michael Foulger, for which we are very grateful. The loans cover the full cost of the player's wages this season and the transfer fee.”

Robinson is the third player to have arrived at Carrow Road for an officially confirmed fee since the club's relegation from the Premiership, with Worthington having also snapped up Jurgen Colin for £250,000 and Dickson Etuhu for £450,000. Andy Hughes also cost City a substantial fee during the summer, thought to be in the region of £500,000.

The latest signing, who is 29, has made seven senior appearances for the Canaries since joining on loan from Sunderland in November and joins on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Although the player is currently sidelined with a rib injury, aggravated during the game against Preston two weeks ago, Worthington said he was pleased to add the experienced central midfielder to his squad on a permanent basis.

“It's a good signing for Norwich City - a real plus for us,” he said. “Carl is a good footballer and has always played a lot of games wherever he has been.

“He has made a good impact since joining us on loan and I'm delighted to have strengthened the squad by signing him up for the long-term.”

As for when the player might be fit to return, the manager added: “It will be another boost when he is back for us, but we will have to be patient on that one. I would think it will be two or three weeks yet - it's not something you can rush. He has got to be comfortable before he starts playing again.”

Robinson was also pleased to sign on the dotted line. He said: “I have enjoyed my spell here so far, even though it has been cut slightly short through injury, and I'm delighted to be here now on a full-time basis.”

The Welsh international has made more than 300 appearances since starting his career as a trainee at Wolves, moving on to Portsmouth and Sunderland while also spending loan spells at six other clubs including City, his ninth club.

Worthington insisted there was nothing new to say on any possible outgoings at Carrow Road, with Dean Ashton and Robert Green continuing to be linked with big money moves to the Premiership.

“There is nothing to report at this moment in time,” he said. “It's speculation that is making the headlines at the moment more than anything else.

“Hopefully they will find something else to write about soon and we will be able to focus on what we are trying to do.”

National newspaper reports continue to claim City are mulling over a £7m-plus offer for Ashton from West Ham. The club have declined to confirm or deny those reports and are only likely to go public if they decide to accept a bid, with no sign of that happening at present.