'Excellent professional' - Former City winger joins League One side

Elliott Bennett of Blackburn Rovers and Emi Buendia of Norwich City during the Sky Bet Championship

Elliott Bennett in Championship action for Blackburn against Norwich in April 2019 - Credit: Alan Stanford/Focus Images Ltd

Former Norwich City winger Elliott Bennett has left Blackburn on a free transfer and returned home to Shropshire with a switch to League One.

The 32-year-old, who is from Telford and came through the books at Wolverhampton Wanderers, has signed for Shrewsbury Town.

Bennett joined Norwich for a reported £1.5million in the summer of 2011 after impressing in League One with Brighton and swiftly became established as a regular starter in the Premier League under Paul Lambert.

However, a serious knee injury on the opening day of the 2013-14 season severely disrupted his Canaries career and the speedy wide man was a big miss during that top-flight relegation campaign.

Championship loan spells with Brighton and Bristol City followed before being sold to Blackburn for around £250,000 in January 2016 after a total of three goals in 80 matches, to link up with Lambert again.

He joined Rovers and became an established force and club captain at Ewood Park, scoring nine goals in 192 games across five seasons, which included promotion from League One in 2018.

He had been in discussions with the Lancashire club about extending his stay but has opted to join Shrewsbury on a one-year deal.

An ankle injury had limited him to 11 appearances this season, often featuring as a right-back during his time with Blackburn.

Bennett posted on Instagram, saying: "Delighted to have signed for Shrewsbury Town and looking forward to getting started.

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"Hoping we can have a successful season with fans back inside the stadium."

A flood of messages from Blackburn team-mates followed, including from former Canaries colleague Bradley Johnson, saying: "Will be truly missed."

Another former City team-mate, defender Elliott Ward, spent two years at Blackburn alongside Bennett and said: "What a servant, what a man. Good luck."

Todd Cantwell of Norwich and Elliott Bennett of Blackburn Rovers at the end of the Sky Bet Champions

Elliott Bennett and Todd Cantwell after Blackburn's draw at Carrow Road earlier this season - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Among them was Rovers striker Adam Armstrong, a player that Norwich are understood to be interested in signing this summer, saying: "Learned so much from this legend! On and off the pitch a true professional. All the best in your next chapter."

Shrewsbury finished 17th and eight points clear of relegation trouble in League One last season, despite manager Steve Cotterill having two stints in hospital with Covid-19 during a difficult second half of the season.

His assistant, former Norwich striker Aaron Wilbraham, remained in regular contact as he led the Shrews to safety and a seventh consecutive season in the third tier - having been beaten by Rotherham in the 2018 play-off final when Canaries loanees Ben Godfrey and Carlton Morris were important members of their squad.

Salop's last season in the second tier of English football was 1988-89.

Cotterill told his club's website: "I've know Elliott for a long time, I had him at Bristol City; I know what I am getting with him. It's five years on since I had him but he's a good leader and a good lad.

"He crosses the ball really well and he's an excellent professional. He will be able to educate our younger players in the dressing room. I like to have one or two 'go to' experienced boys around my teams. I am hoping he can come in and be a good influence in and around the team.

"His best position is out on the wide. He can play wide-right or as a wing-back. His crossing ability is great and he can cross with both feet. We are delighted to have him on board and it was very pleasurable seeing him today."

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