CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant outlined the first stage of his rebuilding plans for Norwich City with the announcement of new deals for six players and the axing of five more.
Peter Grant outlined the first stage of his rebuilding plans for Norwich City with the announcement of new deals for six players and the axing of five more.
Shown the door are Peter Thorne, Paul McVeigh, Ian Henderson, Matthieu Louis-Jean and Andrew Fisk, who will not be offered new deals when their contracts expire on June 30.
But Grant has offered Canaries skipper Adam Drury a new four-year contract which would tie him to the club until 2011, while promising young England youth international goalkeeper Joe Lewis has also been offered a new deal which would secure his Canary future until 2010.
Veteran Dion Dublin is considering an offer, while contract extensions until the end of next season have been finalised with Republic of Ireland international defender Gary Doherty and midfielder Mark Fotheringham. Academy product, central defender Matthew Halliday, has signed a new one-year deal.
Grant has now cleared up a substantial amount of business before the summer break, when he will have his biggest opportunity to make inroads into the transfer market.
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But while Drury has already indicated that he is close to agreeing his deal, a major question mark remains over Dublin, who has been a major influence on the team this season and who Grant believes can play for at least one more season.
“Dion Dublin is very important all-round, both as a person and as a player, and has been since I came in,” he said.
“I genuinely believe with my hand on my heart this is the place he wants to play his football, it's just the difficulty of the travelling and missing his family and we all understand that. We are all family people, they are the most important things in our lives, and that's why I will give Dion a bit more time than most to make his decision.
“Adam knows how much I value him and we have given him an offer which reflects that value. It's a great offer we have made to him and I know he appreciates it, so it's just a matter of him speaking to his family and making sure he makes the right decision - and I'm very hopeful he will end up signing for Norwich City.”
Lewis is the third “unknown”, but Grant is hopeful the Academy product will put pen to paper after a loan spell with Stockport, which could end with a trip to the League Two play-offs.
“I thought it was important he got experience and from what I've seen of him in the last few weeks even in training I thought he had improved and is getting better,” said Grant. “I think he has a good future in the game and I think he is getting fantastic experience in the play-off chase with Stockport. Hopefully the experience will put him in good stead to one day be the number one at this club.”
Doherty is currently sidelined following a hernia operation while Fotheringham is still feeling his way into English football following two years playing in Germany and Switzerland.
“I feel they could be big players for us,” said Grant. “Getting their general fitness up and playing consistently will help them, now it is up to them to keep their position in the team. It's going to be a big pre-season for both of them.”
Halliday played an hour for City's reserves yesterday, but could find himself out on loan next season.
The clear-out contains no real surprises, with none of the players having featured regularly in City's first team this season. All have been bit-part players in recent years, with the exception of McVeigh.
The Northern Irishman joined City from Spurs in March, 2000, but blotted his copybook when he was sent off in Grant's first home game in charge, against Cardiff last October. His card was marked when Grant allowed him to join Burnley on loan last month, but the City boss praised the 29-year-old's contribution.
“I just felt the way the team is structured that there are a few players playing in similar positions,” said Grant. “I felt I would be holding Paul's career back and I hope he can go on elsewhere and do exceptionally well. He has been 100pc professional since I came here and I think he has proved that again in his time with Burnley.”
Thorne has unwittingly become a controversial figure since moving to Carrow Road from Cardiff in the summer of 2005, if only because he arrived on a healthy salary but, in two years, started only 18 games and scored a paltry two goals. The 33-year-old striker has been plagued by all sorts of injuries and hasn't been seen in a City shirt since the match at Preston in February.
The luckless Louis-Jean's departure has been known for some time: the defender played just two games soon after joining City from Nottingham Forest two years ago but then suffered a serious hamstring injury - and hasn't played since.
Grant said: “Unfortunately I never got the opportunity to see Matty play. I thought it was best for both parties to let him go and get a new career and we wish him nothing but the best. Hopefully he will have much better luck in the future than he has had here at Norwich.”
Henderson looked set for a bright future after Nigel Worthington gave him his first team debut in December, 2002, but he was destined to be on the fringes at Carrow Road and was sent out on loan to Rotherham in January, with the express purpose of experiencing regular first team action. However, Grant clearly believes the Thetford-born striker needs to make a fresh start.
“I felt that if we extended his contract we would be clogging his career up and it is important for him that he plays games,” said Grant.
“I'm very pleased with the way he has performed, but I felt it was time for a fresh start and I wish him nothing but success.”
Academy product Fisk has never featured in the first team and was loaned out to King's Lynn earlier this season. He recently had a trial with Cambridge United.