Earnie’s exit solves Grant dilemma

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2007 | UPDATED: 10:21 14 September 2010

CHRIS LAKEY

Peter Grant has admitted he was convinced that Robert Earnshaw would still be a Norwich City player at the start of the new season.

The Canaries boss says Derby County's interest came out of the blue, but while it robbed him of his leading scorer, it solved another problem - how to fit Jamie Cureton into his equation.

Peter Grant has admitted he was convinced that Robert Earnshaw would still be a Norwich City player at the start of the new season.

The Canaries boss says Derby County's interest came out of the blue, but while it robbed him of his leading scorer, it solved another problem - how to fit Jamie Cureton into his equation.

It was a case of one in one out as Earnshaw exited for a cut-price £3.5m and Cureton came in, for an undisclosed fee believed to be around the £750,000 mark.

Cureton, Grant says, has been in his sights since he took over at Carrow Road last October, but as he began to formulate his rebuilding plans he struggled to put him in a team which also contained Earnshaw.

Then along came Rams boss Billy Davies to solve the puzzle with his lightning raid for Earnshaw, paving the way for Cureton to return to Carrow Road after an 11-year absence.

"He was one I was definitely interested in, even if Earnie was still here," said Grant. "The problem was, would I have played the two of them up front - probably not.

"That's why I was looking at the other boys as well because I thought they could have played with Earnie. But obviously, given the contact late on Wednesday about the Earnie situation I thought something was going to happen so we had to make sure we got in contact with Jamie because other clubs were very much interested.

"We spoke to him and he was very much aware of the way I thought about him because I had spoken to people about him before. Thankfully he chose to come to us."

Speculation had been mounting over Earnshaw's future, but Grant admitted he was surprised when Derby called.

"I didn't think we would lose Earnie, I genuinely thought, where would he go in the Premier League," said Grant. "Is it somebody who was there last year or one of the new boys?"

In contrast, it was hardly a surprise when Grant made his move for Cureton - more than eight months after putting out the first feelers for the former City player .

"I knew he had played here, I knew he was a goal scorer and I didn't think we had enough of them at the time," he said.

"I knew he was in contract, but he knew there was always an interest there because he knows I have always liked him as a player.

"I didn't think the balance of the team was right, and even in the summer time when I knew there was a possibility he was on the move, we made contact and made sure that we knew if that was acceptable we'd love to have him at the club.

"Come the weekend, obviously that changed because on Wednesday evening when we got the call about Earnie it was right away when we had to do it, it wasn't about waiting.

"We made contact with Colchester and asked them for permission to speak to Jamie. Thankfully he agreed to speak to us.

"He knows the club and he knows how much I have always liked him as a player, as a finisher."

And while Grant has lost his club's top scorer from last season, he has brought in a man who at 31 scored more goals than any other player in the Championship.

"We create the chances and he will put the ball in the net - if he is selected to play," said Grant.

"You don't get many Jamie Curetons - probably Robert Earnshaw and him are similar - they get chances, they will score goals. If we can add more quality, hopefully it will give us a much better, more competitive season than last season. We want the big prize."

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