Safri’s missed photo op could be last straw

CHRIS LAKEY Youssef Safri's future as a Norwich City player is once again in doubt after he failed to appear in the club's official team photograph yesterday.

CHRIS LAKEY

Youssef Safri's future as a Norwich City player is once again in doubt after he failed to appear in the club's official team photograph yesterday.

Safri has been the subject of almost constant speculation during the summer break and his absence yesterday suggests that the Moroccan midfielder's sometimes stormy Canaries career could finally be coming to an end.

Club officials would say only that manager Peter Grant would be explaining the player's absence at a press conference after tonight's friendly match against West Ham.


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But Grant may decide that enough is enough - especially as what appears to be another stand-off between manager and player comes at a time when City's midfield is overflowing with players.

Grant added Canaries old boy Darel Russell to the mix in a surprise transfer move yesterday and in Frenchman Julien Brellier has a ready-made replacement as the holding midfielder.

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Safri is also expected to be absent for the African Cup of Nations in January while continuing fitness concerns - all factors which are likely to count against him in the final reckoning.

Russell has taken another £600,000 out of Grant's transfer budget after completing his move from Championship rivals Stoke.

While Russell prepared to return to the club he left four years ago, defender Jurgen Colin was set to go through the door marked exit, with a deal agreed with Ajax to take him back to his native Holland in a transfer worth around 100,000 Euros.

Russell takes the number 20 shirt vacated by Dickson Etuhu, who left for Barclays Premiership newcomers Sunderland earlier this month - but insists he is his own man.

"I am coming here as Darel Russell, not as Dickson Etuhu's replacement," he said.

"I am going to do what I do - I am a different player to him in a sense.

"If people want to look at me in that light that is up to them."

Grant said: "I am sure he has learned from his experience being away from here.

"I have watched him closely for a long time now, watched his progress, and I think he is at a stage now where he is much more mature as a player. I think he can be a big influence on the team."

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