Wigan thwart Lambert’s plan for reunion with former Canaries winger at Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 10:53 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:53 10 January 2019
Paul Lambert has missed out on a reunion with his former Norwich City player Anthony Pilkington at Ipswich Town, after the winger signed for Championship relegation rivals Wigan
The Tractor Boys signed Huddersfield forward Collin Quaner on loan for the rest of the season on Tuesday and Pilkington was Lambert’s next target, with his team bottom of the table and 10 points adrift of safety.
The 30-year-old has not featured at all for Cardiff this season and his contract is due to expire in the summer, so Town’s intention was to take over his deal for the remainder of the campaign, with talks said to have reached an advanced stage.
However, the Lancashire native has decided to sign an 18-month deal with Wigan instead, allowing him to be closer to his family.
“It’s brilliant to be here,” Pilkington told his new club’s website. “It all happened pretty quickly during the week, but I’m delighted to have the chance to come here and be part of what the manager is building.
“I’ve had an indifferent year, so I’m really grateful to be here and to be given a chance to get back to playing football and I’m hoping to bring goals to the team, it’s something I’ve done from positions behind the striker and out wide throughout my career.
“I was disappointed not to be featuring for Cardiff and I feel like I did well in the games I played for them last season, but Paul Cook and his staff have shown faith in me and I want to repay that faith.”
Norwich paid around £2million for Pilkington in 2011 after promotion to the top flight after he’d impressed in League One for Huddersfield, and he made the step up to the Premier League impressively.
Eight goals in 30 league games was an important contribution to Lambert steering City to 12th in the top flight, before leaving for Aston Villa in the summer of 2012.
Pilkington continued to play an important role under Chris Hughton and scored five in 30 Premier League games in 2012-13 as the Canaries finished 11th in the top flight – including a headed winner against Manchester United at Carrow Road.
However, injuries meant he played a limited role as City slipped to relegation in 2013-14, scoring once in 15 games, and he was sold to Cardiff for around £1.25m in August 2014.
He continued: “When you get to my age, even though I’m only 30, you do come across a lot of the boys you’ve played with already. I played with Gary (Roberts) for a long time at Huddersfield and Joe Garner for a short time there. I also played with (James) Vaughany at Norwich.
“I know a few of the boys and I know of a lot of the squad. There’s a lot of quality in the squad and I’m looking forward to getting involved in training and integrating into the group.
“My Premier League debut was actually at the DW Stadium, so it’s funny how things come around in football. I remember that moment well when I came on as a substitute for Norwich City.
“The goal the following season was a good moment for me as well, my little mate Wes Hoolahan set me up. I saw a video of that goal a couple of months ago, the keeper got a touch to it, but I think it was just too powerful at the time. I’ve scored against Wigan, so now it’s time to make sure I return the favour and score one in Wigan colours.”
The Republic of Ireland international has since made over 100 appearances for the Bluebirds but has continued to be hindered by injuries and played a bit-part role in promotion last season.
The addition of 27-year-old German attacker Quaner joins two other loan signings for Lambert at Town so far this month, Leicester left-back Callum Elder and Hull striker Will Keane.
There was a further addition yesterday, with 31-year-old Simon Dawkins joining until the end of the season, with the option of a further 12 months.
The former Derby winger was a free agent after a spell with San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS, last training with League One sides Charlton and Luton last year.