Norwich City target Mackail-Smith looking for move

CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH:

CRAIG MACKAIL-SMITH: "I'm 27 now. I want to push on and progress."

Georgi Mabee

Canaries target Craig Mackail-Smith says he is disappointed that Peterborough United rejected a reported £3m bid for his services from Norwich City.

The 27-year-old was “a bit upset” according to Posh’s director of football Barry Fry in a statement yesterday, while the player later told a national radio station that he felt he had been paid a “great compliment” by City.

City were remaining quiet yesterday after former City star Dion Dublin had revealed the link during the BBC Late Kick-Off Show on Monday night – not long after the Canaries had beaten Bristol City 3-1 to move in to second place in the Championship.

Manager Paul Lambert brushed off the speculation yesterday morning, although those at the Peterborough end were more than willing to talk.

Stuck in the middle was Mackail-Smith, scorer of 27 goals in all competitions this season, who was left to insist he would remain focused on Peterborough’s promotion push.

“Norwich are on the verge of getting in the Premier League and for them to want me to join the team to push them over the edge is a great compliment,” he said.

“But the club have said it’s not the right offer and I won’t let it affect me. I love playing football, that’s my job and I’ll keep giving 100pc to Peterborough until I’m told otherwise.

“I’d love to play at a higher level, but I can only do what the club allow me to. The bid wasn’t right for the club. When the right bid comes in and the club come to me and say they’ve accepted the offer then I’ll take it from there and see what happens.

“I’ve just got to concentrate on my football, keep doing what I’m doing, and sooner or later something will come from it.”

Mackail-Smith’s contract expires in the summer of 2012 and having said he won’t be renewing it is looking to leave London Road in the summer.

“I want to push on and progress,” he said. “I’m 27 now. I need to go on and experience other clubs. I’ve enjoyed my time at Peterborough, but I feel it’s time to move on at the end of the season –- once I’ve got them promoted.”

Mackail-Smith was speaking on the same radio station which had interviewed Lambert earlier in the day, although the City boss stuck to his usual policy of revealing as little as possible about a possible signing.

What was clear was that Fry was prepared to do all the talking.

“I have had talks with Norwich City, but I have also had discussions with our chairman Darragh MacAnthony and our manager Darren Ferguson and we have rejected the proposal,” said the director of football.

“There is always a lot of speculation about Craig because he is the leading goal-scorer in League One and has an impressive goal to game ratio, but Norwich are the sixth different club to make a bid and we have rejected them all after talking it over with the chairman”.

Yesterday’s flurry of words suggests it could become a ‘transfer saga’, with Fry suggesting Mackail-Smith was in favour of a move.

“He feels a bit upset about the fact we won’t allow him to grow,” said Fry. “But he’s been in this position before and he’ll roll his sleeves up and run his heart out for the club.

“He knew about it before the game on Saturday, but he went out, he made the first goal, scored the second and got brought down for the penalty, despite being ill,” added Fry.

Lambert is in the market for a striker as City enter the final nine games of the campaign in a strong position, and Mackail-Smith would fit the bill – he’s the right age, he’s a proven goal scorer and, crucially, he appears to have the hunger that the City boss demands from his players.

Mackail-Smith joined Posh from Dagenham & Redbridge in January, 2007, and has scored 91 goals in 199 appearances. Hull, City’s opponents on Saturday, wanted him and his then strike partner Aaron McLean, but were forced to settle for one half of the prolific partnership.

Posh boss Ferguson admitted last week that if his team aren’t promoted they would struggle to keep hold of Mackail-Smith, and Fry admitted he was unlikely to be at Peterborough after the summer.

“If you’re offered a better job with far, far more money and playing at the top level, it’s every footballer’s dream,” he said. “We’ve stopped him fulfilling that dream five or six times. “I’m sure in the summer there’ll be 20 clubs after him and the chairman has gone on record to say he won’t sign another contract so he’ll be sold in the summer. Sometimes you’ve got to say, enough’s enough, you’ve done brilliantly for the club and you go with our blessing.”

Mackail-Smith played for Peterborough at Sheffield Wednesday last night, scoring the first Posh goal in a 4-1 win.

• FACTFILE

Born: Watford, February 25, 1984.

Height: 5 ft 10 in.

2000-2003: St Albans City, 30 starts, plus 15 appearances as a substitute, 2 goals. 2003-2004: Arlesey Town, 54/17.

2004-2007: Dagenham and Redbridge, 95 (13) 38. 2007-present: Peterborough United, 186 (13) 91. This season: 43 appearances, 27 goals.

International career: Made seven appearances for England’s semi-professional team, scoring four goals. He remains qualified to play for Scotland via one of his grandmothers.

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