City tight-lipped over Jerome bid

RICK WAGHORN Canary chief executive Neil Doncaster today gave the clearest indication yet that the club were poised to splash the Ash cash - and promised to reveal all once the transfer window slammed shut.


Canary chief executive Neil Doncaster today gave the clearest indication yet that the club were poised to splash the Ash cash - and promised to reveal all once the transfer window slammed shut.

Weekend reports suggested that City had already lodged a £1 million bid for Colchester United's England Under-20 star Greg Halford; overnight reports in South Wales indicated that the Canaries had now upped their interest in Cardiff City striker Cameron Jerome after Sheffield United yesterday plumped for Ade Akinbiyi instead.

“We've made a number of inquiries about a number of players,” said Doncaster, with Coventry City's Gary McSheffrey another reported City target.

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“It is not, however, in Norwich City's best interests to announce the details of any bids that have been made,” added Doncaster, clearly aware of a potential supporters' backlash if the Carrow Road club should emerge from this month's transfer window empty-handed - fresh from boosting Nigel Worthington's transfer coffers by the better part of £8 million in transfer fees and saved wages following Dean Ashton's record-breaking £7.25 million sale to West Ham United this week.

Hence Doncaster's commitment to reveal much of what Norwich City have been up to once the dust settles on a frantic week on the phones.

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“We will announce more details if and when any bid is accepted - and in any event, after the transfer window closes.”

In the meantime, however, the club were heading back to the cloak and dagger world in which Ashton's money-spinning exit was agreed - 7pm on Saturday night to be precise, with West Ham United faxing back the signed contract 45 minutes later.

“Just as you get a best price when selling a player by keeping your cards close to your chest, so you do when buying players,” added Doncaster.

Interestingly, Bluebirds fans appeared resigned to Jerome's exit with supporters now convinced that - with a shiny, new 30,000-seater stadium on the way next autumn - club owner Sam Hammam will simply plough the money back into team strengthening. The feeling remains that a £2 million down-payment plus add-ons and sell-ons that could, eventually, take the deal to £3.5 million would seal the 15-goal teenager's exit.

“Of course, fans don't want to see Cameron go, but if the deal is right, I think most will accept it,” said Paul Corkery, of the Valley Rams. “Too often in the past with the transfers of the likes of John Toshack and Robbie Earnshaw, none of that money has ever been seen again to go into strengthening the side.

“We would expect that this time, with a manager like Dave Jones, that anyone brought in will be a good enough replacement for anyone who might have had to leave.

“There's a different climate at the club now, Sam (Hammam) in the past was at fault for building the club up too much; there's a lot more realism about now, particularly when it comes to finances. If the money for Jerome is right, he'll go, it's as simple as that.”

Jerome's exit could also secure the full-time services of Cardiff play-maker Jason Koumas, currently only on-loan from West Bromwich Albion.

Closer to home, speculation continued to surround the future of England World Cup hopeful Robert Green after Dean Kiely left a large situation vacant at Charlton by agreeing a move to Portsmouth.

Sources both at The Valley and Carrow Road, however, suggested that no Addicks' swoop was imminent and with City No2 keeper Darren Ward sidelined with a back injury, Green was likely to be staying firmly put.

“It is something that is out of my hands,” said Green himself. “If something comes along then that's the time to look at it. But as of yet nothing has come along so there is not really much to comment about.

“I have been here ten years on a full-time basis and there have been rumours circulating around me for about four or five years about where I am going to play in the future. It just carries on.”

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