Five best buys: January has been a good month for Norwich City in the past

Dean Ashton proved a snip at �3.5m from Crewe.

Dean Ashton proved a snip at �3.5m from Crewe. - Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Sportsbeat Image

Norwich City have got it right in the transfer window in the past…MICHAEL BAILEY looks at the five best signings the Canaries have made in January

Simon Lappin became a cult hero amongst supporters.

Simon Lappin became a cult hero amongst supporters. - Credit: Focus Images

Best Buys

5 Dean Ashton 2005

Russell Martin - seen the good times and the bad with the Canaries.

Russell Martin - seen the good times and the bad with the Canaries. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2011

Dean Ashton should really be far higher in this list. The record £7.5m outlay to bring in one of the most highly-rated players outside the top flight at Crewe, so nearly kept Nigel Worthington's Canaries in the top flight. It should have done.

But then, maybe Ashton shouldn't have featured on this list at all – had City bought him at the start of the season, Norwich would have been safe with games to spare.

Keith Briggs didn't get much of a look in with the Canaries.

Keith Briggs didn't get much of a look in with the Canaries. - Credit: � ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2003.

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Arguably one of the most gifted forwards to wear a Norwich shirt, it's just a shame he couldn't find the motivation to get City back to the Premier League and found West Ham helping him out instead.

Jonny Howson - a snip at �2m.

Jonny Howson - a snip at �2m. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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4 Simon Lappin 2007

For the haphazard nature that can come with New Year transfer business, it's an achievement if the signing simply hangs around for a number of seasons.

Darren Huckerby - the best January window signing of all time for Norwich City?

Darren Huckerby - the best January window signing of all time for Norwich City? - Credit: ARCHANT } NORFOLK 2004.

Simon Lappin was registered as a Norwich player for seven of them. He endured ups and downs. Some seasons we didn't see him a lot. Others he was an integral part.

But from League One to Premier League, not once did Lappin let anyone down. Not bad for someone who cost £75,000 from St Mirren.

And rest assured, no player earns a song off the terraces without earning their popularity first. Lappin did that and more.

3 Jonny Howson (2012)

It's already approaching five years since Jonny Howson was signed from Leeds by Paul Lambert – yet you imagine that deal simply wouldn't happen anywhere now.

The Leeds captain, home-town hero and 23-year-old midfielder was yet to sign a new deal at Elland Road and as owner Ken Bates started sweating, he took the money from City and metaphorically ran. All £2m of it.

Since then, Howson has been named City's player of the season and is one at the club that should genuinely be regarded as Premier League standard.

Some question his contribution when he's playing – yet it's when Howson isn't involved, that you see how great his influence is. Breaking up play, bursting runs from deep and chipping in with so many important goals.

Unlike the two above him in this list, Howson didn't appear on loan for Norwich before January arrived. So therefore should be considered the best outright January signing City have ever made – and please, get fit soon Jonny.

2 Russell Martin (2010)

Another captain signed by Paul Lambert early in his City reign, Martin was out of the picture at Peterborough.

And while some supporters seem to go red with rage at a simple mention of the current Norwich skipper, that's an irrational response to a player that has ticked a lot of big boxes since arriving at Carrow Road – initially on loan in November, before making the deal permanent for £250,000 once January was welcomed in.

Three promotions, lifting a trophy at Wembley and carrying so much of it with humility and respect – at times when the opposite has been thrown in his direction from a vocal few.

Many of City's favourite sons get it particularly tough at times but whenever it is that Canaries history does get the call, it will smile on Russell Martin.

1 Darren Huckerby (2004)

The loan signing of Huckerby alongside Kevin Parker and Peter Crouch in late 2003 transformed Nigel Worthington's City from mediocrity into promotion contenders. Two of them left before 2003 was done – leaving a clamour for Hucks to stay on.

It took stiff negotiation, a lot of money, internal arguments and plenty of good will – but City got the £750,000 deal from Manchester City done that January, and with it Norwich became favourites for the title. For some, Huckerby's signing was effectively a promotion guarantee.

But the best bit was what followed. A five-year spell in which Huckerby fell in love with City and the fans fell in love with him. Twice voted player of the year, named in the club's Hall of Fame and greatest ever XI, his name is still sung from the stands today.

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