Grant set to miss out on Sutton

CHRIS LAKEY Norwich City may lose the opportunity to grant Chris Sutton his wish of a return to his old hunting ground - a year after overtures by the former Canaries star were rejected.


Norwich City may lose the opportunity to grant Chris Sutton his wish of a return to his old hunting ground - a year after overtures by the former Canaries star were rejected.

Sutton is currently considering his future after suffering an eye injury which put him out of the game for five months - and should he decide to play on it appears he is keen to repay Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill for the loyalty he showed him during his absence.

The 34-year-old's desire to settle a debt means City are likely to miss out - but Sutton's agent Tony McGill revealed yesterday that the player who left the club for a British record transfer fee of £5m 13 years ago could have been a Norwich player 12 months ago when he was released by Birmingham.

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“I approached Norwich City, obviously under different management,” said McGill. “He (Sutton) clearly would have given the move serious consideration.

“Norwich definitely had an approach from me, but it was purely the manager's decision and you have to respect individual manager's views. Nigel Worthington did not want him - although I am certain one or two others at the club wanted Chris Sutton.”

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Worthington cited Sutton's injury problems as a concern, although his successor, Peter Grant, last week expressed surprise that a deal had not been done a year ago, admitting he would be interested should the player become available.

However, Sutton, who has a home in north Norfolk, will answer first to O'Neill, who gave him a contract until this summer when he took him to the Midlands last October and is keen for him to stay at Villa Park.

“It all depends on whether he keeps on playing, and the first person he will tell is Martin O'Neill,” said McGill. “Martin gave him a good length of time, all summer, to see how he feels and make a decision.

“I would have thought if he wanted to play on he would be offered another contract at Aston Villa and while I wouldn't dismiss the Norwich link, I would not think it was a strong possibility. But Norwich have made their interest known and it is an option.

“Chris feels he owes Martin O'Neill, that is what he is like.”

However, McGill insists Norwich could do worse than take a look at Sutton's younger brother, John - who he also represents. The 23-year-old is out of contract at St Mirren this summer and McGill believes there is a bargain to be had.

“His brother is almost a mirror image,” he said. “John has been top scorer at St Mirren for the last two years. He has got a lot better and sharper - he is the same size as Chris and I think he will have a major impact when he moves to England.

“I would recommend Peter Grant have a look at John Sutton.”

The Norwich-born player featured in a reserves match which doubled as a trial at Colney in 2003, when he was on Tottenham's books, but failed to impress Worthington. He eventually moved to Raith Rovers, but his scoring exploits failed him when he was transferred to Millwall and two years ago he joined St Mirren, where he played alongside one of Grant's January signings, Simon Lappin.

“He went back to do what he does best, scoring goals, and he was leading scorer for St Mirren in both seasons,” said McGill. “I think somebody will be lining up a bargain. Because he's 23 a Scottish club would have to pay compensation and I have a list of clubs up there as long as your arm who are interested.

“But he would cost an English club nothing - what more could you want - a young English striker for nothing?”

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