Gunn's sights set on defenders
Michael Bailey New Norwich City manager Bryan Gunn may only be a couple of days in to the job but two defenders are already emerging as possible transfer swoops. Aberdeen defender Lee Mair and Fulham's Australian centre-back Adrian Leijer are both reported to be on Gunn's recruitment radar.
New Norwich City manager Bryan Gunn may only be a couple of days in to the job but two defenders are already emerging as possible transfer swoops.
Aberdeen defender Lee Mair and Fulham's Australian centre-back Adrian Leijer are both reported to be on Gunn's recruitment radar as City's new boss looks to strengthen a back-line that includes just Gary Doherty and Jonathan Grounds as recognised central defenders - and the latter is on a 24-hour recall from early next month.
According to reports in Scotland, Mair has emerged as a surprise transfer target and with the 28-year-old central defender out of contract in the summer, he is already free to talk to clubs.
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Gunn is yet to publicly outline where he intends to strengthen the Canaries squad he inherited from Glenn Roeder, but a solid defender is expected to feature high on his priorities this month and Mair would appear to fit the bill, having made 11 starts this term for a Scottish Premier League side pushing for a Uefa Cup place behind the Old Firm duo of Rangers and Celtic.
Aberdeen are said to be keen on keeping the Scot at Pittodrie beyond his current deal and Mair is currently in discussions with the club over a new deal.
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Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood, who was linked with the managerial vacancy at Carrow Road after guiding Aberdeen back up the SPL, has said no players will come or go during this month's transfer window, however, it is believed a nominal fee would be enough to bring the versatile and sturdy defender back to England, having previously played for Stockport County.
Another possible recruit for Gunn is Leijer, who has struggled for first-team opportunities at Craven Cottage as Fulham enjoy a successful season in the Premier League under Roy Hodgson.
The 23-year-old (left) has reportedly held talks with Norwich officials already as he looks to complete his recovery from a long-term knee injury with regular football, and former Australian A-League coach Ian Crook - who is set to take up the same position under Gunn at Colney on Sunday - is an admirer of the defender, while Hodgson has already confirmed he favours a loan deal.
“It is important for him if we can't give him those games to find somewhere where he can get games,” said Hodgson. “Whether it is either on loan or if necessary to find a club that's prepared to really put him in the spotlight. He is not a young player, of course he is young but he is not academy age. We regard young players as the 18, 19, maximum 20 year-olds.
“Really we think that a player of 23 should be playing regular first team football. We can't offer it to him here at the moment but we're pleased with him. He is a very, very good character. He is a good player but he needs to play.”
Having been a youngster at Melbourne Victory, Leijier is yet to make a senior Fulham appearance after being sidelined for 11 months with a knee problem, but his bit part role for the Aussies during the Beijing Olympics has hindered his bid to break into the Fulham first team.
“He wants to play,” said Leijier's agent, Tom Brookes. “Both the club and he agree that he needs to play, so at some point during January we will get him out on loan and they (Fulham) will monitor him closely wherever he goes.”
“They were disappointed, as he was, that he had not featured in the Olympics. Adrian was given a program when got back and worked extremely hard to get back to the fitness required. He looks in unbelievable shape at the moment, but obviously being in good shape and getting game time are two different things.”
Meanwhile, one former Norwich loanee could be making a trip across the border in the opposite direction, as Celtic close in on the signature of Ched Evans.
The Scottish giants are said to have agreed a �1.2million fee with Manchester City for the 20-year-old Wales international, who spent much of last season on loan at Carrow Road.