Dereham Town eye Sutton swoop

DAVID CUFFLEY One of Norfolk's top Ridgeons League clubs could make an audacious bid to tempt striker Chris Sutton back into football.


One of Norfolk's top Ridgeons League clubs could make an audacious bid to tempt striker Chris Sutton back into football.

The former Norwich City star, once Britain's costliest player when he joined Blackburn for £5m in 1994, announced his retirement from football in July at the age of 34 because of an eye injury that had sidelined him since last Christmas.

But Dereham Town boss Robert Taylor admitted he would like to talk to his former Carrow Road team-mate to see if there was any chance of him playing at local level.

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Taylor and Sutton played together for City Reserves in the early 90s. In contrast to Sutton, Taylor failed to make the first team for the Canaries but carved out a successful career with Brentford, Gillingham, Manchester City and Wolves.

Now Taylor, Dereham's boss for nearly three years, is hoping there might just be a chance of Sutton turning out for the Magpies.

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Said Taylor: “I haven't had the chance to speak to Chris at the moment. I just wanted to know what the situation was, and whether he will be able to play at any level.

“I just want to have a chat to see what he's up to and whether he's going to play anywhere.

“It would be very nice for us, certainly.”

Dereham won the Norfolk Senior Cup for the last two seasons and have won three of their first four Ridgeons League Premier Division matches this season.

“We are looking for a striker and people ask me why don't I play again? But I think perhaps Chris and I are in a similar position in that we want to enjoy time with family,” said Taylor.

“He's a couple of years younger than me. We were at Norwich for three years together and played in the reserves and I think he was in his first year when I was in the second year of my apprenticeship.”

Sutton, who captained England Under-21s and won one full cap against Cameroon in 1997, was a surprise signing by Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill last year. There were hopes he may return to Carrow Road, but former manager Nigel Worthington dismissed the idea on fitness grounds. Sutton played just nine matches for Villa, with the eye problem that arose in a match against Manchester United on December 23 keeping him sidelined for the rest of last season.

Sutton's agent, Tony McGill, said at the time of his retirement: “He decided that he could not do himself justice with the eye injury and - more importantly - he has taken into account the effects it might have on his future life.”

In all, Sutton scored 43 times in 127 games for City. Moves to Blackburn, Chelsea for £10m, Celtic for £6m, Birmingham and Villa followed.

He is now back living in Norfolk and played cricket for Sheringham this summer.

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