Norwich City target Ross McCormack is the best player outside the Premier League, insists Skysports pundit Ian Holloway

Fulham's Ross McCormack is a stand out performer for Skysports pundit Ian Holloway. Photo: Adam Davy

Fulham's Ross McCormack is a stand out performer for Skysports pundit Ian Holloway. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Former Blackpool boss Ian Holloway is tipping Norwich City to get automatic Championship promotion if they can land Ross McCormack, who he rates as the best player outside the Premier League.

The Canaries are closing in on a club-record deal for the Fulham frontman ahead of Saturday's Championship kick-off at Blackburn. Holloway believes Alex Neil's current squad is already good enough to finish in the top three but recruiting a proven goalscorer like McCormack could make the difference.

'By keeping Alex Neil, who is a bright and inventive manager, it looks like Norwich are focusing on stability, which will stand them in good stead,' he said. 'He'll have learned a lot last season and will get stronger. If they find a goalscorer they could easily go up automatically - I've seen they're in for Ross McCormack, that could make the difference. He's the best player outside the Premier League.'

Holloway sees no way past Rafa Benitez's Newcastle for champions but feels former Norwich chief Chris Hughton could turn Brighton into top two contenders after a near miss in the play-offs.

'I think Brighton will use the disappointment of last season to their advantage and get automatic promotion,' he said. 'They have a solid defensive unit, but also can attack you from all angles. It's a great mix. The relationship between the manager and the board also is very stable while their recruitment policy is spot on. It's only a matter of time until they reach the Premier League. This could be their year.

'Newcastle have the biggest budget, arguably the biggest fan base and the most experienced and illustrious manager ever to have graced the Championship in Rafa Benitez. It's hard to look past them for the title.'

Holloway is tipping Norwich's East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town to narrowly miss out on a play-off place with a seventh-placed finish.

'Two words: Mick McCarthy. I'm doing him a disservice by putting them outside the play-offs but it's about adding to what they've already got and spend some money,' said Holloway. 'They could do what Middlesbrough did last season, if given the funds.'

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