Norwich City close in on Chris Hughton in their boss search
Norwich City were last night closing in on Chris Hughton as the man to fill the void left by Paul Lambert at Carrow Road.
City confirmed they had been given permission to speak to the Birmingham boss earlier in the day after reportedly agreeing compensation in the region of �2m with the ailing St Andrews' outfit.
A brief statement on the club's official website read: 'Norwich City can confirm that Birmingham City have granted the club permission to speak to Chris Hughton about the vacant managerial position at Carrow Road. The club will be making no further comment at this stage.'
Hughton is believed to have held productive talks with chief executive David McNally after indicating he was keen to speak to the Canaries over their managerial vacancy. Barring any late hitches in the negotiations, Hughton's move is expected to be rubber-stamped later today following official statements released by both clubs confirming initial discussions were underway for Hughton – currently on a rolling one-year contract – to be installed as Norwich's new figurehead.
'Chris is a great manager and deserves the opportunity to speak to Norwich,' said Birmingham's acting chairman Peter Pannu. 'That is why we have granted him permission to speak to them. Norwich City have made an approach for Chris Hughton with regards to their vacant managerial position. He expressed a wish to speak to the Canaries and permission was reluctantly granted.'
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The 53-year-old's Birmingham assistant, Colin Calderwood, and first team coach Paul Trollope are understood to be part of any proposed Norfolk switch, which would inevitably raise the prospect of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa linking up once again with Lambert at Aston Villa.
City's former manager refused to be drawn yesterday on the prospect of a reunion with the duo he had worked alongside since their Wycombe days. Lambert, however, did tell his potential successor he is inheriting a 'special' group of players.
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'I wish Norwich the best of luck and whoever takes over will judge the squad then on what they see, so it is not for me to say, but they were fantastic,' he said. 'I have absolutely nothing but praise for the football club, nothing but praise for the fans and I owe a big thanks to those players. I don't think people on the outside recognise how special or how close we were. We had a great relationship with them and I can honestly say in those three years I never had one bad character, not one. I've had a lot of text messages from the lads wishing me good luck and that has been very touching.'
Hughton embellished his reputation within the game last season by guiding Birmingham into the Championship play-offs, despite the club operating under a transfer embargo. The former Tottenham coach had previously steered Newcastle back into the big time at the first attempt when they romped to the Championship title in 2010 before he fell out of favour with Magpies' owner Mike Ashley.
Hughton was also a prime target for West Brom, following Roy Hodgson's departure to the England national side, but reports in the Midlands earlier this week claimed Albion had cooled their interest after baulking at paying compensation for Hughton's backroom team.