City set to wrap up deal for Bulgarian defender

Chris Lakey Norwich City are on the verge of signing Bulgaria international defender Valentin Iliev.The CSKA Sofia player will undergo a medical at Carrow Road today, according to reports in Bulgaria, ahead of completing a one million Euros transfer.

Chris Lakey

Norwich City are on the verge of signing Bulgaria international defender Valentin Iliev.

The CSKA Sofia player will undergo a medical at Carrow Road today, according to reports in Bulgaria, ahead of completing a one million Euros transfer.

The 28-year-old has five caps to his name at international level, and was voted the best defender in Bulgaria three seasons ago.

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Iliev, who turned down a move to Watford a year ago, believes the time could be right for him to test his skills in the English Championship.

“I think the physical style of football played in England would suit me well. The deal can still fall through, but I am ready for any outcome,” said Iliev, who flew to England yesterday.

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Iliev pulled out of the move to Watford at the 11th hour, after a meeting with his club president, Alexander Tomov.

“I don't feel any regret for passing on that opportunity, because I am not the kind of person who looks back, only forward,” Iliev said.

Iliev travelled to England yesterday with his agent Emil Danchev, who also advises Bulgarian and Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov, one of the hottest properties in the current transfer window.

Should Iliev's transfer finally go through, it would mean Canaries manager Glenn Roeder has gone a long way to solving one of his biggest problems at Carrow Road - the lack of bodies in the centre of his defence.

Roeder has just two recognised centre-backs, Gary Doherty and Jason Shackell, whose absence for Saturday's FA Cup tie against Bury forced Roeder to pull striker Dion Dublin into the back four.

The City boss had hoped to bring in Martin Taylor, after the Birmingham player enjoyed a successful eight-match loan spell at City. However, Birmingham refused to allow that deal to be extended, sparking a mini war of words over the player's future.

Roeder said Birmingham had rejected an offer out of hand, while the Premiership side claimed they had heard nothing from Carrow Road. Queens Park Rangers have been waiting in the wings with a cheque for one million pounds - which is Birmingham's asking price - but Roeder claims the player has no intention of moving to London.

But with Roeder refusing to up his offer, it seems that Taylor may now be histiory as far as a career with Norwich City is concerned.

Should Iliev sign on the dotted line, he would be City's second permanent signing of the January transfer window, with Matty Pattison having completed his move from Newcastle on Friday after his loan spell expired.

Roeder is set for a busy day today - he is expecting an answer from Manchester City assistant manager Tord Grip on young striker Ched Evans, who he wants for a second loan spell, to the end of the season.

Another striekr could be on his way, although Chris Brown's expected departure took a twist yesterday when he was linked with moves to two other clubs.

The 23-year-old striker was expected to hold talks with Preston boss Alan Irvine and chairman Derek Shaw today over a £350,000 move to Deepdale.

But Hartlepool United and Doncaster Rovers are also said to be interested in the possibility of taking the striker on loan.

Brown spent seven months on loan at Doncaster, but Hartlepool may believe they have a stronger case following the departure of their youth team coach, Paul Stephenson, to Carrow Road in December.

Stephenson's protracted move - which was made official after he had started work at Norwich - clearly didn't sit well with the hierarchy at Hartlepool, and only went through after City agreed that as part of the deal they would send loan players to the League One side.

Hartlepool manager Danny Wilson is also said to be chasing former loan forward Darryl Duffy, but another part of the equation could prove to be Norwich's reported interest in Hartlepool striker James Brown.

Irvine has refused to name his transfer targets, but says he is getting closer to making a breakthrough on his wish list.

“I think we are making progress on a few things, but deals are so complicated these days that I am frightened to say anything until it actually happens,” said Irvine, who lost three strikers last week and has another injured.

“So many things can go wrong between now and completing things. All I can say is we are working hard at it and I think we are getting closer on a few things.”

Another out-of-favour Canary, Ian Murray, also appears to have some choices, with former club Hibernian the latest to express an interest. Falkirk were said to be keen, but reports yesterday suggest that the Scot will reject overture from Brighton and return to Easter Road.

The sticking point may be the uncertainty over the managerial position at Hibs, where caretaker Tommy Craig could find himself replaced this week, with ex-Preston boss Paul Simpson favourite to take over.

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