Title joy for McCallum but two City loanees set for League One play-offs, as Ipswich miss out
- Credit: PA
Title celebrations can begin for one of Norwich City’s loan players but the League One season is set to resume for two Canaries loanees.
Left-back Sam McCallum joined the Canaries on a permanent deal reportedly worth up to £3.5million in January, before returning to Coventry on loan and continuing to feature regularly under former Norwich striker Mark Robins.
The 19-year-old had three goals and three assists to his name from 34 games in all competitions prior to English football’s suspension in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Coventry five points clear at the top and with a game in hand on their nearest rival.
While clubs in the Premier League and Championship are preparing to resume their seasons, it’s been a different matter for the third and fourth tiers due to the financial impacts of playing behind closed doors, with an extraordinary general meeting held by the English Football League (EFL) earlier today.
That saw EFL clubs vote to retain promotion, relegation and the play-offs and to use an unweighted points-per-game system to decide the final table if the season is curtailed - which was followed by League One and Two clubs voting to end their campaigns in subsequent meetings.
That allows McCallum and Robins to celebrate major roles in taking Coventry back to the Championship for the first time since 2012, allowing the youngster to turn his attentions to joining up with Norwich ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
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However, City loan defender Sean Raggett has a play-off campaign to prepare for with Portsmouth, as does young midfielder Isak Thorvaldsson with Fleetwood - if their loans are to be extended accordingly to allow them to play, as expected.
Centre-back Raggett has been a regular for Pompey, who are set to finish fifth once the standings are settled on points per game, which will see them face Oxford, while Fleetwood and Thorvaldsson will face third-placed Wycombe - who jump up from eighth thanks to points per game, forcing Peterborough out of the top six.
Raggett’s situation is complicated by his contract at Norwich expiring on June 30, however the play-offs look likely to be completed before that date. Former Lincoln defender Raggett, 26, has only made two brief appearances for the Canaries and looks likely to be moving on and Iceland U19 international Thorvaldsson signed a professional deal in February 2019 but only made two appearances as a substitute after joining Fleetwood on loan in January, spending most of his time on the bench.
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Elsewhere in League One it means Canaries legend Russell Martin has steered MK Dons away from relegation trouble with the help of City loanees Carlton Morris and Louis Thompson, but the decision means their season is over.
While Norfolk-born former Wroxham and Diss forward Paul Warne, a self-professed Norwich fan, is another man celebrating as Rotherham have finished second and will join Coventry in automatic promotion, bouncing back to the Championship straight away - with Canaries forward Morris having spent the first half of the campaign with the Millers.
It also means former City boss Paul Lambert has not been able to take Ipswich straight back up, with a downturn in form before the season’s suspension leaving the Tractor Boys stranded in 10th place, which is set to become 11th thanks to the points per game format.
That ensures that, even if Norwich are eventually relegated from the Premier League this season, there will be no East Anglian Derby in 2020-21, unless the rivals are drawn together in a cup competition.
It’s bad news for Norfolk-born goalkeeper Remi Matthews at Bolton though, with the cash-strapped Trotters suffering a second successive relegation.
The decision is good news for Diallang Jaiyesimi though, who was recently released by the Canaries despite doing well for Swindon this season, who have now been confirmed as League Two champions.
It could also mean that there is good news on the way for King’s Lynn Town, with relegation from League Two set to go ahead, allowing two teams to be promoted from the National League.
However, the National League will now have to decide how their season is settled, with the Linnets hoping points per game will also be used as it will see them finish top of National League North and earn promotion to the top tier of non-league for the first time.
Lynn had Canaries youngsters Simon Power and Alfie Payne on loan this season, although Payne is leaving City when his contract expires at the end of this month.
There would be another Norwich angle in National League South as well, with goalkeeper Aston Oxborough playing a prominent role for dominant leaders Wealdstone, who are also waiting to learn their fate.
The National League board are due to meet on Wednesday afternoon, following the EFL decisions, with discussions with clubs to follow later in the week.