Reversal of fortunes sees Lappin go

On a day when Norwich City fans were holding their breath or trawling the Internet for news of new arrivals, two more of the first team squad slipped out of the door at Carrow Road almost unnoticed.

On a day when Norwich City fans were holding their breath or trawling the Internet for news of new arrivals, two more of the first team squad slipped out of the door at Carrow Road almost unnoticed.

Striker Ryan Jarvis headed off to Notts County for the rest of the season - the fourth different loan destination of his professional career after Colchester, Leyton Orient and, most recently, Kilmarnock, a move that promoted the “Killie Man Jarvo” headlines back in August.

It seems extraordinary that the 21-year-old has not started two successive league matches for the Canaries since the second and third senior appearances of his career, against Wolves and Leicester, back in April 2003, when he was still 16.

At the start of the following season, Jarvis was given squad number 23 - the same as David Beckham at Real Madrid at the time - and while it may have been no more than a fanciful parallel, the England Under-17 international certainly appeared to be destined for good things at Norwich.

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Alas, under three successive managers, we have never really had much chance to find out and, after a brief recall to the senior ranks by manager Glenn Roeder, the Fakenham lad is packing his bag once again. With his contract up in the summer, his last chance of first team football with his local club may well have gone.

Midfielder Simon Lappin slipped off the radar even more dramatically after being dropped following the 3-0 defeat at Plymouth in November. His loan move to Motherwell for the rest of the season took him back north of the border on Thursday, exactly one year after he arrived from St Mirren as one half of former boss Peter Grant's deadline day double Scotch with Mark Fotheringham.

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While Lappin started the season as one of City's better performers, scoring spectacular goals against Barnet and Cardiff to follow last season's free-kick winner at Luton, Fotheringham languished on the sidelines with an ankle injury, and few could have predicted the way the two men's fortunes have completely reversed.

Fotheringham, 24, still with fewer first team games under his belt for City than Lappin, is now captain of Roeder's resurgent team and turning in some outstanding displays, while 25-year-old Lappin has been included among the substitutes just twice - without getting on the field - since the Plymouth defeat.

It all started brightly enough for Lappin in Roeder's first game in charge when he was Sky TV's choice as man of the match in the East Anglian derby against Ipswich, but the 3-1 home defeat by Watford two days later proved a less happy 90 minutes. Then, like so many City players at Home Park in Roeder's first away game, he suffered a miserable afternoon and has not been seen in the first team since.

In all three games, Lappin played at left-back because of Adam Drury's long-term knee injury.

But despite Drury's continued absence, the arrival of Mo Camara, Ryan Bertrand and Matty Pattison, not to mention Darren Huckerby, made Lappin's chances of a recall very remote even before Roeder recruited more new faces on Thursday.

Yet, of the eight players sold, loaned out or “terminated” since Roeder's arrival - nine if we include John Hartson's swiftly aborted loan - Lappin is one who has perhaps been a shade unlucky.

His three games under the new manager were, as he points out, not played in his best role and he was exposed at full-back against Watford and Plymouth.

Only last week, he was insisting he wanted to stay and fight for his place.

“I'm very happy here. Obviously I would like to be playing - that's when you are happiest - but it's a fantastic club, the facilities are second to none and I want to be a part of it,” he said.

A week later, that hope appeared to be dashed as he checked in at Motherwell.

On his arrival, he was philosophical about his lack of opportunities at Norwich. He said: “I played a couple of games under the new manager but unfortunately it wasn't in my preferred position. It was at left-back as Adam Drury had a knee injury at the time, so I was happy to fill in for the short term while they got someone in.

“I didn't get a chance at left midfield, which is my strongest position, so that was disappointing but hopefully getting back up here playing regular football, doing what I love doing, will bring out the best in me.

“I was often put into left-back when there were suspensions or injuries but I prefer, and think I'm at my best, when I am in the midfield area.”

Lappin has to wait for his Motherwell debut because their Scottish Cup fifth round tie against Dundee has been re-scheduled for Tuesday. The Fir Park pitch is still waterlogged.

But he said: “I will be 110 per cent committed to Motherwell during my loan spell. I've still got another year on my contract down there (at Norwich) so I would be going back there in the summer.

“I am here at least until the end of the season and all my focus is on Motherwell.

“I would like to think some of the Norwich people will be up to watch to see how I am progressing.”

Whether Lappin appears again in a Norwich shirt remains to be seen, but he appears to have no regrets about the original move to the Championship.

“I'm an ambitious guy and once I got the chance to go down there I was obviously going to take it,” he said. “I always wanted to play at that level.

“I just wanted to get back playing, but I learned a lot down there. It's a very tough, physical league with a lot of good players.

“So I would like to think I have improved my game, training with players like Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby and someone like Robert Earnshaw when he was there.

“You can't help but learn when you are playing with guys like that.”

Motherwell boss Mark McGhee, whose team sat fourth in the Scottish Premier League this morning, has already indicated that he hopes Lappin will make the move permanent.

“He gives us a nice bit of balance and I look forward to seeing what he is going to bring to the squad,” said McGhee.

“I would hope he would come here, do well and would want to stay.”

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