Earnshaw’s going nowhere

DAVID CUFFLEY Nigel Worthington today stressed his determination to fend off any summer bids for striker Robert Earnshaw - after reported interest from Blackburn Rovers.


Nigel Worthington today stressed his determination to fend off any summer bids for striker Robert Earnshaw - after reported interest from Blackburn Rovers.

The 25-year-old Wales international has been mentioned among potential Rovers targets as they seek to fill the gap left by ex-Canary Craig Bellamy, who completed a surprise £6.5m move from Ewood Park to Liverpool last week.

There is a certain logic to the link, with Blackburn manager Mark Hughes knowing Earnshaw well from his days as Welsh national boss, and his similarity in pace and predatory goalscoring instinct to Bellamy would make him a suitable replacement.

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But Worthington, having already lost one prized striker to the Premiership this year thanks to Dean Ashton's £7.25m move to West Ham, is in no hurry to part with another.

Instead, he said he wanted to build his side around Earnshaw, who scored eight times in 15 appearances for City last season after a £2.75m move from West Bromwich Albion in January.

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Said Worthington: “I've seen the rumours but there's been no contact from Blackburn about Robert Earnshaw.

“He's one of the key cornerstones we're looking to build things around. He's proved that with the goals he scored in the number of games he played at the end of last season, so I wouldn't be looking to entertain that.

“I realise business is business but I'm looking to add faces to the squad, rather than listen to people who want to sign my players.

“The player has been here less than six months and we only had Ashton 12 months. I'm trying to bring a stable group together.”

Worthington revealed one possible addition to his attacking armoury last night when he admitted he had inquired about former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick, 25, now with Stoke City.

City have struggled to fill the right-sided midfield role since Mark Rivers fell out of favour and left the club in the summer of 2004.

“It has been hard to get a man who is an out-and-out wide right player. It's been difficult, but we will continue to look and see what we can do. It is a situation that we can look to try and resolve, but it has been ongoing for the last couple of years,” said Worthington.

“Luke Chadwick is a player that we quite like for the position. He can pass and he gets crosses in - we have inquired about him and we are waiting to see what happens.”

Kevin Cooper, on loan from Wolves, played his part in City's Nationwide League title success at the end of 2003-04, but was not signed permanently.

Since then, season-long loan David Bentley, Sweden international Mattias Jonson, Tottenham's Dean Marney, Ian Henderson, Paul McVeigh, Andy Hughes and on-loan Jonatan Johansson, from Charlton, have all been used in the wide right role, but none has made the position his own.

Worthington confirmed that should Stoke - who paid £100,000 to West Ham for Chadwick in January - be willing to let the player go he would be looking for a permanent transfer rather than a loan.

But City have made no further headway in their pursuit of Leeds striker Rob Hulse, put off by an asking price of £2m from Elland Road.

Still waiting for the first new signing more than eight weeks after the end of last season, Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association has expressed its concerns about the Canaries' lack of transfer activity.

Association chairman Roy Blower said: “The players are already in pre-season training but we are yet to see any additions to the squad - and new signings are clearly needed if we are to improve on last year's depressing season.

“Holidays and the World Cup don't seem to have prevented other 'big' clubs such as Birmingham or smaller clubs such as Colchester from forays into the transfer market, and the lack of news coming out of Carrow Road is giving many of us cause for concern.”

Worthington declined to comment.

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