Croft is top flight material

PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:26 10 September 2010

Paddy Davitt

Norwich City Premiership target Lee Croft was yesterday backed to be a top flight success - by his former mentor.

The 22-year-old was recently linked with a summer move to Premiership strugglers Sunderland and Reading.

Norwich City Premiership target Lee Croft was yesterday backed to be a top flight success - by his former mentor.

The 22-year-old was recently linked with a summer move to Premiership strugglers Sunderland and Reading. Championship promotion chasing duo Stoke and West Brom are also reportedly tracking the former Man City trainee who is approaching the final year of his current Carrow Road contract.

Croft clocked up his 50th league start for the club since his initial £600,000 switch in July 2006 during the midweek draw at promotion-chasing Watford.

The Wigan-born midfielder has established himself in Glenn Roeder's starting line up over the last few months with a string of consistent displays to help City pull clear of the relegation zone.

Now Croft's former Eastlands' academy manager Jim Cassell insists the ex-England youth international can make the step up again after kick starting his career with the Canaries.

“He's another of our boys playing in the Championship and is a creative player who works hard,” said Cassell. “Crofty is a top class individual and you just enjoy seeing people of his type that have never been a problem getting the benefits of success. He, more than anyone, really deserves it and he keeps working and working. You knock him down and he keeps getting up and that's the mental strength you have to have as a winger, to keep getting the ball and taking people on, and Crofty's shown he can do that.

“It's going to be a very interesting future because some of these boys are only 22 and 23, so you put two or three years experience on there and it wouldn't surprise me to see some of these players coming back into the Premier League because they are mature and we know they've got ability.”

Croft spent 12 years on the blue side of Manchester but left to further his career after making only 32 senior appearances.

“Dropping down a division has done my game good,” he told Man City's official site. “I don't think there is any doubt about that. I play much more regularly than I could have hoped for at Manchester City especially after they spent all that money in the summer. I would say that I am physically and mentally stronger now than when I left for Carrow Road and I am fitter too because of having more playing time.

“The Championship is a tough old league with some battle-hardened and highly skilled players in it. The games come thick and fast and there are now a lot of sides in the division that have had a taste of the Premiership and want more of it. I loved my time at City and I have to say that what I was taught at the academy has stood me in good stead since I left.”

Croft has been an ever present in Norwich's Championship revival since the club's New Year's Day draw at Crystal Palace. The 22-year-old's form helped keep close pal Darren Huckerby out of the side when Roeder initially deployed just one recognised wide man to plot City's upturn.

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