It’s loan deadline day for Norwich City – but is Chuba Akpom heading elsewhere?
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Thursday is now or never for Norwich City, if they want to boost their squad for the race to return to the Premier League next season.
The Football League loan window closes at 5pm with City boss Alex Neil open about his attempts to recruit a striker for the remaining seven games of the campaign, following Lewis Grabban's ongoing absence after ankle surgery.
Whether Grabban will return to play this season is a moot point, but recruiting a forward with similar mobility, movement and goal threat to the 27-year-old is the sole priority for Neil – hence speculation linking City with a move for Arsenal youngster Chuba Akpom.
However, that chance may have gone begging after Wednesday's reports that Nottingham Forest were expected to secure the arrival of the young Gunners graduate – despite a rather downbeat weekend assessment of their chances from Forest manager Dougie Freedman.
Seven Championship clubs were believed to have registered an interest in signing Akpom, including fellow promotion hopefuls Derby and Ipswich – but now it's said to be down to three clubs, with Bournemouth also in the hunt alongside City and Forest.
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The forward is currently on duty with England's Under-20s and scored in Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with Mexico. He is expected to make his decision on Thursday morning.
Even if Akpom and any other potential striker targets fail to make a move to Carrow Road, City will announce some business.
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Graham Dorrans' initial emergency loan from West Bromwich Albion ended on Sunday, but will be renewed to ensure the Scottish midfielder can remain with Norwich for the rest of the season. That would include any possible play-off dates required – for example, a Wembley final on May 25.
City are now undertaking their loan business without the services of a head of football recruitment, following Tuesday's sudden and surprise departure of Barry Simmonds.
The Canaries have begun their search to fill a position to head those responsibilities on their football executive board alongside Neil, chief executive David McNally and technical director Ricky Martin.
The City boss currently has 19-goal striker Cameron Jerome and Gary Hooper fit and available for the rest of the season, having regularly chosen to start with just one recognised forward.
Academy graduates Carlton Morris and Jamar Loza – whose first goal for City earned a dramatic point at Huddersfield last week – have also made appearances since Grabban sustained his ankle injury, following the East Anglian derby win over Ipswich at the start of the month.
With Championship, League One and League Two clubs all able to do business until today's deadline, it remains to be seen whether there will be further exits from Carrow Road.
Josh Murphy has begun a month-long loan spell at Championship strugglers Wigan, while Jacob Murphy is impressing at League One Colchester United where he will remain for the rest of the season.
Defender Michael Turner has played every minute for Fulham since arriving on loan until the end of the season – although he cannot play in their final game of the campaign, at Carrow Road against his parent club.
Young midfielder Cameron McGeehan was another to move once the January transfer window closed – he started Luton's 3-2 defeat at home to League Two promotion rivals Wycombe on Tuesday night and will stay with the Hatters until the end of the season.
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