Ricketts to stand in for Green?

CHRIS WISE Jamaican international Donovan Ricketts could be the man to stand in for stricken Norwich City keeper Robert Green at the start of next season if national newspaper reports are to be believed.


Jamaican international Donovan Ricketts could be the man to stand in for stricken Norwich City keeper Robert Green at the start of next season if national newspaper reports are to be believed.

The 28-year-old Bradford stopper, a regular for the Bantams in League One last season, was linked with a summer move to Carrow Road at the weekend, with one story going as far as to suggest that a fee for his services had already been agreed.

With Darren Ward having left Norwich last month, and the out-of-contract Paul Gallacher yet to decide where his future lies, manager Nigel Worthington was on the look-out for a new keeper even before Green's World Cup dream collapsed around him last week.

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With City's No. 1 likely to be on the sidelines for several months after sustaining a serious groin injury while on England B duty that search has now been stepped up - and Ricketts' name is the first one to be thrown into the ring.

The 6ft 4in West Indian has made solid progress since arriving on these shores from Jamaican side Village United in January 2004. His potential was spotted by Bolton manager Sam Allardyce and although he failed to make a breakthrough at the Reebok Stadium he did enough to impress Bradford boss Colin Todd who gave him a deal during the summer.

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Ricketts found himself playing second fiddle to Australian Paul Henderson during the 2004-5 campaign but was first choice last term and played in 39 games to take his career total for Bradford up to 43. He managed to win back his place in the side despite being sent off in unusual circumstances at Southend in December after gesturing to the crowd in response to alleged racist abuse.

If the giant Jamaican did join the Canaries he would be a firm favourite to play in the opening games of the new season unless Gallacher decided to stay put. The only other fit goalkeeper in City's first team squad at present is 18-year-old Joe Lewis who has yet to play a first team game.

Meanwhile defender Elliott Ward has become the second West Ham player to be linked with a close season move to the Canaries.

A week after Worthington admitted his interest in Hammers left-back Clive Clarke, national newspaper reports claimed 21-year-old Ward was also a target for the Canaries.

The 6ft 2in centre-back, one of four footballing brothers, was limited to five first-team appearances last season but also spent a successful three-month loan period at Plymouth.

He was in the Plymouth side that drew 1-1 with the Canaries at Home Park in January and made a total of 16 appearances for the Pilgrims as they steered their way clear of relegation trouble.

Ward returned to Upton Park but missed out on a place in the Hammers' FA Cup final squad with Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon and James Collins providing tough competition for places in the centre of defence.

Hertfordshire-born Ward, who signed a four-year contract with West Ham at the start of last season, made his debut for their reserve team as a 15-year-old schoolboy in the 2000-01 season.

A persistent nerve injury in his back ruled him out for most of the 2003-04 season, but he made his senior debut in August 2004 in a Carling Cup match victory over Southend United.

He made his League debut at Reading in March 2005 and played 12 games alongside Ferdinand as the Hammers clinched promotion through the play-offs.

Ward's elder brothers are all professionals. Lee was with Watford, Scott with Peterborough and Darren, a target for the Canaries when he was at Millwall, plays for Crystal Palace.

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