Doherty released by Norwich City

Norwich City defender Gary Doherty is being released by the Canaries - a matter of days after finishing third in the club's player of the season contest.

Norwich City defender Gary Doherty is being released by the Canaries - a matter of days after finishing third in the club's player of the season contest.

The popular centre half was a key member of the side that clinched the League One title in emphatic fashion, making 44 appearances and chipping in with seven goals to help City make a swift return to the Championship.

But his contract runs out during the summer and manager Paul Lambert has decided against offering the Republic of Ireland international another one, meaning he must now join Jamie Cureton, Paul McVeigh and youngsters Damon Lathrope and Danny Kelly in looking for a new club.

It is unclear whether any attempt was made to keep Doherty, City's second longest serving player after Adam Drury - at the club or, indeed, whether the player himself wanted to extend his Carrow Road stay.

With no comments from Doherty on the club's official website, it was left to Lambert to do the talking, with the City boss paying tribute to the job the 30-year-old centre half had done for him during the triumphant 2009-10 campaign

'Gary has done really well for us and played a big part this season,' said the City boss. 'He came back really strongly after being dropped early in the season and got himself into the team on merit with some excellent performances. He leaves the club after nearly six years of solid service and we're grateful for all the effort he's put in for Norwich during that time.

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"Gary's a great lad and a great professional and I'm sure he'll take away some brilliant memories from his time at Norwich, including this season.'

Doherty joined the Canaries a week into the 2004-5 Premiership campaign from Tottenham Hotspur for a sizeable undisclosed fee and quickly made his mark, scoring in his second appearances as City came from two down to draw 2-2 at Newcastle.

He was used as a striker during the early stages of his Norwich career, but quickly settled at the heart of the back four, making a total of 227 appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals.

Though prone to the occasional error, Doherty became a fans' favourite - winning the player of the season award in 2005-6 - and the nickname 'The Ginger Pele' quickly stuck.

He fell out of favour shortly after Lambert's arrival, but after a short spell in the reserves worked his way back into the starting X1 and barely put a foot wrong as the Canaries powered to the title. His contribution was recognised when he beat the likes of Chris Martin and Wes Hoolahan to finish third in the race for the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy behind Fraser Forster and Grant Holt.

While Doherty's exit is a big surprise, the same can't be said of the four other departures announced last night. Cureton spent the latter stages of the season on loan at League Two Shrewsbury, where he failed to score, after been deemed surplus to requirements by Lambert, while McVeigh barely figured under the new boss after being brought back to the club by Bryan Gunn on a short-term contract last season.

The other two to be shown the door are both youngsters without a first team appearance between them. Midfielder Lathrope was well down the pecking order and never seemed likely to get a look in under Lambert while Kelly, a striker who can also play at the back, got no closer than being an unused substitute on a couple of occasions, despite a decent scoring record for the youth team.

'Like all of the squad involved this year Paul McVeigh has done his bit when called upon,' said Lambert. 'He's another one who has played a lot of games for this club over the years and we'd like to thank him for his work in games and at Colney during our time here as well.

'Jamie Cureton has gone away and had a loan spell with Shrewsbury which I think was the right thing to do to get himself games considering how many strikers we have at the club. Jamie's scored an impressive number of goals in his career and we also want to thank him for his time with us.

'Danny and Damon are two young lads who have come up from our Academy and worked really hard. I just think their opportunities to progress here would be limited and hopefully they will find clubs where they can get first team action under their belts and continue their development.'

Cureton leaves with a record of 108 appearances and 24 goals in his two spells at the club, while McVeigh's statistics read 247 appearances and 40 goals, none of which were scored in his second stint.