City must resist temptation to cash in on playmaker, says Dion Dublin

James Maddison is likely to attract Premier League interest this January. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

James Maddison is likely to attract Premier League interest this January. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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Norwich City must resist the temptation of cashing in on James Maddison this January, says Dion Dublin.

James Maddison celebrates scoring a brilliant goal against Preston. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images James Maddison celebrates scoring a brilliant goal against Preston. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Maddison has been the outstanding performer during the Canaries’ stop-start season so far and there is expected to be plenty of interest in the former Coventry man when the transfer window opens in the New Year.

However, Dublin believes if City are to have any chance of returning to the Premier League then they must do everything they can to keep Maddison.

“It is really difficult to hold onto players whose name is in the paper every week for doing something positive,” said Dublin, speaking exclusively to 888sport.

“Clubs are always desperate for players who have an impact on games and if you are effective in a football match you will be wanted by other teams.

Dion Dublin won the player of the season award at City during the 2007/8 campaign. Picture: Archant Dion Dublin won the player of the season award at City during the 2007/8 campaign. Picture: Archant

“At the moment Mads is absolutely flying and there will be offers. Norwich have to do the right thing for Norwich football club.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about moving forward and getting back into the Premier League.”

City’s financial plight was laid bare at the club’s AGM last month where it was made clear that some difficult decisions lie ahead if the Canaries remain a Championship club beyond the end of this campaign.

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However, Dublin believes City can only maintain their Premier League ambitions by holding on to players like Maddison, who they bought from the Sky Blues for an initial fee of £2.5m in January 2016.

Dion Dublin was a revelation at Norwich City. Picture: Archant Dion Dublin was a revelation at Norwich City. Picture: Archant

Maddison must act as a magnet for other quality players to join City, says Dublin.

“Is it best to get rid of him for decent money or hold onto him and think ‘hold on a minute, we need more James Maddisons in our squad’ and build the team around him? If you’ve got James Maddison then he will attract others of that quality,” he added.

“Players look at clubs and think ‘who have they got? Oh he’s there isn’t he?’ If you’ve got no James Maddisons then it’s very hard to attract players of that same quality.”

City’s promotion expectations have dwindled in recent weeks after seven matches without a win but Dublin still believes there is time for them to mount a play-off challenge.

Dion Dublin was brought to Norwich by Nigel Worthington. Picture: Archant Dion Dublin was brought to Norwich by Nigel Worthington. Picture: Archant

“Norwich are a club that can hold their own in the Premier League,” he added. “In the past maybe they have spent too much money on not-good-enough players though there are always lots of factors in a club going down.

“The problem is that Norwich City are a Premier League team but there are 20 other clubs in the Championship who can say the same thing.

“It’s all about taking your turn and finding the right time to make it to the Premier League. I believe Norwich will be fighting this year in the play-offs and then it’s about whether you’ve got to bottle to take it further.”

The financial difficulties the club face should they extend their stay in the Championship is likely to sharpen focus on the ownership.

Some fans feel it is time for joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones to step aside and let someone with deeper pockets have a go at restoring Norwich to the top-flight.

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However, Dublin believes fans should be grateful to the pair for how they have run the club.

“I have to tip my hat to Delia and to Michael for keeping the club where it is. It is down to them why Norwich still has its head above water. They are in a decent league but they should be in the Premier League without a doubt.”

Dublin started at Norwich before being released as a trainee but finished an illustrious career at Carrow Road when signing as a 37-year-old under Nigel Worthington.

Any initial scepticism fans felt was soon shed as Dublin’s quality and experience shone through. The former Coventry man regards his second spell at Norwich as one of the highlights of his career…but he didn’t think it would turn out that way initially.

“On my very first day of training there was a massive scrap between two players and I was gutted because I was clean through on goal and about to score my first goal,” he said. “Instead everybody stopped and watched – two players got sent home and I was thinking ‘what have I signed for here?’

“Meanwhile there was lots of speculation from the fans saying ‘what have we signed him for? He’s 37 years old. He’s had his day’.

“But lo and behold the squad that we had was very tight. People like Dickson Etuhu, Robert Earnshaw, Youssef Safri: everyone was so tight. We played some good football and I made some good friends and even got to score some decent goals.

“I played centre-half, centre-forward, and even at 37 I was doing what I was told. I just loved the football club. I felt relaxed there, I felt comfortable there; it felt like home.

“I absolutely loved it at Norwich. Absolutely loved it. I got to play with Hucks again which was great and I made some really good friends.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Dublin here.

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