Baptiste linked with a switch to City
DAVID CUFFLEY The Canaries were today believed to be chasing the signature of highly-rated Mansfield centre-half Alex John-Baptiste.
The Canaries were today believed to be chasing the signature of highly-rated Mansfield centre-half Alex John-Baptiste.
The 21-year-old defender is out of contract at Field Mill and is reported to have made two visits to Norwich in the past 10 days.
Earlier this month, Mansfield manager Bill Dearden, currently away on holiday, offered John-Baptiste one of the best deals ever to a player who has come through the ranks to stay at the club.
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He said at the time: “We are not trying to keep him on the cheap. He is being offered good money to stay here.”
But it was always expected that John-Baptiste, who started his career with the Stags as a schoolboy, would move on to a higher division.
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He is reported to have travelled to Norwich see the facilities at Carrow Road and Colney, before returning to hold talks with manager Peter Grant.
Mansfield assistant manager Paul Holland said: “Bill Dearden is back on Thursday and we hope to hear from the players who have been offered new contracts then, so that we can plan ahead for next season.”
John-Baptiste, 5ft 11in and born at Sutton-in-Ashfield, has made 166 senior appearances for Mansfield, scoring six goals.
He made his first team debut at the age of 17 in March 2003 and had loan spells at Tamworth and Burton Albion before establishing himself in the Stags' defence.
Apart from centre-half, he has played at right-back or as a defensive midfielder.
In the past, he has been linked with Derby, Sheffield United and Watford, but former Blades boss Neil Warnock was understood to have rejected Mansfield's asking price. Now, however, he is out of contract and, as he is still only 21, any fee would have to be settled by a tribunal.
The Canaries could face competition from Hartlepool United, newly-promoted to League One.
Hartlepool manager Danny Wilson, who signed John-Baptiste's former team-mate Richie Barker from Field Mill in January, is also an admirer and is believed to have offered him a contract.
Mansfield finished eighth from bottom of League Two at the end of the season.