Huckerby to leave, says agent

Matthew Chambers Darren Huckerby will leave Norwich City in the summer, according to his agent Phil Smith.

Matthew Chambers

Darren Huckerby will leave Norwich City in the summer, according to his agent Phil Smith.

Huckerby, who is out of contract at the end of the season, was strongly linked with a move to Major League Soccer side Toronto FC during the January transfer window earlier this week and Smith admitted he certainly could not see his client extending his five-season stint with the Canaries.

He explained: "He's out of contract at the end of the season and he won't be staying at Norwich. There have been no discussions over a new contract."

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Smith, who is a director of First Artist Sport, one of the world's leading player representation agency groups, also today fuelled speculation linking Huckerby with a move to America to play MLS.

He said: "It's an option, certainly. I know he likes the idea of the challenge."

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Huckerby has underlined his regard for Norwich by ruling out ever playing for another English club, which would seem to suggest a move to MLS is a real possibility for the fleet-footed wingman and that it's a case of when, not if, it will happen.

Smith, who also acts on the behalf of players such as Arsenal's Alex Hleb and West Bromwich Albion's Kevin Phillips, inferred that Huckerby was perhaps looking for a new challenge: "Darren's shown a lot of respect to Norwich by saying he won't play for another English club, he's being very respectful."

Any suggestion of Hucks hanging up his boots, however, was quickly dismissed by Smith. He said: “No, he's not going to be doing a Dennis Wise or anything like that.”

Huckerby has not had the happiest of times recently and his relationship with new City boss Glenn Roeder has been under the spotlight.

Huckerby has been dogged by injury and controversy this season. The hip problem that surfaced in the summer ruled him out of the pre-season programme and the first four Championship games.

In September, after an appalling display in the 2-0 defeat at Wolves, he labeled former City manager Peter Grant's squad the weakest he had known in his time at the club. Three league games and just one point later, the manager was gone.

A red card against Ipswich in Roeder's first game in charge sidelined Huckerby for three matches and although he bounced back with goals against Stoke and Plymouth, it quickly became apparent that his new manager did not regard him as indispensable when he left him out of his starting eleven for the televised match at Colchester.

Roeder ruled out starting contract talks with the 31-year-old - or any other member of his squad nearing the end of his current deal - until such time as City were in a safer position in the table.

"Contract talks couldn't be further from our thoughts at the moment. Everything in life is timing and it is not the right time," said Roeder.

Huckerby was then left on the bench for the league games at Crystal Palace and Barnsley, and he was substituted 25 minutes from time in the FA Cup replay at Bury with City trailing 2-0.

Then Huckerby was left out of the squad altogether for the match against Leicester but his absence was put down to his hip injury.

Huckerby has had anti-inflammatory injections for the hip problem - which allowed him to make a cameo appearance against Southampton on Tuesday night.

"Darren has been happy with the reaction he's had from the injection in the hip," said Roeder. "But there wasn't any possibility when everyone was fit tonight of changing the team that played so well against Leicester. It would have been unfair to leave anybody out. He's the same as everyone else. He has to fight for his place. There are no guaranteed shirts available in the first team at Norwich and although we've got a tiny squad now, there's no one guaranteed a place. The couple of big signings that I hope we'll announce on Thursday will create more competition for places and if I can get one or two more it's going to be even better.

"There was not a chance of changing the team that played so well against Leicester, but I'm pleased to have him back."

Huckerby is currently four goals short of 50 for the Canaries and nine appearances short of 200 - two landmarks he'll surely look to achieve before he leaves.

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