Jon Newsome - Leeds’ Jonny Howson another shrewd capture by Norwich City boss Paul Lambert
Midfielder Jonathan Howson is likely to prove another shrewd capture by Norwich City manager Paul Lambert – if his move from Leeds United goes through as proposed.
That’s the view of former Leeds centre-half and ex-City captain Jon Newsome, who has watched Howson emerge from the youth ranks at Elland Road to become an inspirational captain.
It was confirmed yesterday that the two clubs had agreed a fee for the 23-year-old, subject to the player completing a “stringent medical” and agreeing personal terms.
City fans are likely to have to wait a few weeks, however, to see former England Under-21 international Howson pull on the Canary yellow shirt. He is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in Leeds’ 2-0 Championship win over Millwall on December 3, which did not require surgery but was initially expected to keep him out of action for about three months.
A fit Howson, though, will be an asset to Lambert’s squad, according to Newsome.
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“A few years ago he was the new kid on the block, who came through the scholarship and the youth team and he has done very, very well,” said Newsome.
“I rate him very, very highly. He’s a good midfielder with a good engine who likes to get forward.
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“It looks a good signing to me – a very good acquisition and another shrewd piece of business by Mr Lambert.
“I am surprised Leeds have agreed to let him go, but they do say it is reluctantly.”
If the deal - reported by one national newspaper to be worth �2m - goes through, Howson, who is out of contract in the summer and has turned down a new deal in pursuit of Premier League football, will follow former midfield colleague Bradley Johnson from Leeds to Carrow Road.
Johnson’s success in less than six months in the top flight may have persuaded Howson to follow suit, though Newsome, who was City’s first �1m signing in 1994 and now runs a prestige car company in Sheffield, believes the club itself is now a big draw for ambitious players.
“When I moved to Norwich I looked at the football club and it seemed to be heading in the right direction, playing football the right way and that’s what I thought about,” he said.
“Going from Leeds United to Norwich City at the moment is a forward step, most definitely.
“I’ve seen Leeds a few times this year and Norwich a few times on TV. Paul Lambert’s done a great job and the club is buzzing.
“I’m dead pleased for them because I loved my time there and it’s nice to see them in the Premier League and doing well.”
Until his setback in December, Howson had not previously missed a game through injury since 2009, and was ever-present in the Championship last season, when he skippered Leeds to seventh place.
A statement on Leeds’ official website read: “The club has reluctantly accepted the offer on the basis that the player only has six months of his current contract remaining and has expressed a desire to play Premier League football at the earliest opportunity.
“The club has been in discussions with the player about a new contract at Elland Road for more than 12 months, but he has been steadfast in his position that he would like the opportunity to play Premier League football.
“On that basis Jonny hasn’t felt in a position to commit himself to Leeds United at this moment in time.
“The player would be able to leave on a free transfer at the end of his current contract.
“While accepting the offer on Tuesday the player has still to agree terms with Norwich and we are disappointed the matter has become public at this stage.”
Howson, from Morley near Leeds, came through the club’s academy and made his first team debut in the Carling Cup against Barnet in September 2006.
Later the same season, as an 18-year-old, he scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 defeat at Norwich.
He has made 225 senior appearances for Leeds in all competitions, scoring 28 goals.
Howson became United’s youngest captain since Billy Bremner when former manager Gary McAllister handed him the job.
He played in the League One play-off final against Doncaster at Wembley in 2008 and led his side to runners-up spot behind the Canaries in League One in 2010.
Interviewed about his injury while sitting out the Christmas programme, he said: “We’re not putting an exact timescale on it, but we are looking at a couple of months – maybe around that time.
“It’s just a rough guideline and we’ll see how it goes, but the good thing is I don’t need an operation or anything like that.
“Short term it’s not good news, but long term it is good news.”