Search on as Grant signals his intent

DAVID CUFFLEY City boss Peter Grant has set his sights on bringing in four or five new signings during the close season - after axing five out-of-contract players from the payroll.


City boss Peter Grant has set his sights on bringing in four or five new signings during the close season - after axing five out-of-contract players from the payroll.

The Canaries have confirmed that strikers Peter Thorne, Paul McVeigh and Ian Henderson, defender Matthieu Louis-Jean and midfielder Andrew Fisk will not be offered new deals when their contracts expire on June 30.

But Grant has offered skipper Adam Drury a new four-year contract which would tie him to the club until 2011, while England youth international goalkeeper Joe Lewis has been offered a new deal which would run until 2010.

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And, as revealed after last week's home defeat by Southampton, 38-year-old Dion Dublin is considering an offer of a further year at Carrow Road.

Contract extensions until the end of next season have also been finalised with 27-year-old Republic of Ireland international defender Gary Doherty and 23-year-old Scottish midfielder Mark Fotheringham, while central defender Matthew Halliday has signed a new one-year deal.

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Writing in his exclusive Evening News column today, Grant confirmed: “I would love to be able to bring new faces in straightaway. I would love to get four or five new players in, but it is never as simple as that.

“I have my own A-list - A, B and C, in fact - of who I would like to bring in, but it depends so much on who is available. In some cases, a club may say yes but the player's agent wants to wait until July to see what else is on offer.”

He said the club's scouting missions would continue beyond the end of the English season.

“We talk about the transfer window but the window never closes for us. We have been looking at players for months and we will keep watching in the weeks ahead because leagues in some countries play through the summer,” he said.

Drury, 28, has already indicated he is close to agreeing his deal, but Dublin insists he will put his family first in any decision.

“Dion Dublin is very important all-round, both as a person and as a player, and has been since I came in,” said Grant.

“I genuinely believe with my hand on my heart this is the place he wants to play his football, it's just the difficulty of the travelling and missing his family and we all understand that. We are all family people, they are the most important things in our lives, and that's why I will give Dion a bit more time than most to make his decision.

“Adam knows how much I value him and we have given him an offer which reflects that value. It's a great offer we have made to him and I know he appreciates it, so it's just a matter of him speaking to his family and making sure he makes the right decision - and I'm very hopeful he will end up signing for Norwich City.”

Lewis, 19, has yet to play a first-team game for City but is currently on loan at Stockport, bidding for a place in the League Two play-offs.

“I think he has a good future in the game and I think he is getting fantastic experience in the play-off chase with Stockport. Hopefully the experience will put him in good stead to one day be the number one at this club,” said Grant.

Doherty, player of the year last season, is currently sidelined after a hernia operation while Fotheringham is still finding his feet English football following two years playing in Germany and Switzerland. Halliday, 20, who played an hour for City's reserves yesterday, has made just one senior appearance, as a substitute in the Carling Cup at Torquay last August.

“I think with his size and his stature, he deserves a chance for me to see him a little bit more. He is probably one that I will look to let out on loan next season,” said Grant.

McVeigh, 29, currently on loan at Burnley, was City's longest-serving player after signing from Tottenham in March 2000, making 235 senior appearances and scoring 40 goals. He played in the Division One play-off final against Birmingham in 2002 and was a member of the Nationwide League title-winning squad of 2003-04.

“I just felt the way the team is structured that there are a few players playing in similar positions,” said Grant. “I felt I would be holding Paul's career back and I hope he can go on elsewhere and do exceptionally well. He has been 100 per cent professional since I came here and I think he has proved that again in his time with Burnley.”

The other four players released have figured little this season.

Thorne, 33, scored just twice in 42 appearances - 18 of them starts - after moving to Carrow Road from Cardiff in the summer of 2005. He started just five games this season and last appeared, briefly, as a substitute at Preston in February, since when he has been out with a thigh strain.

French full-back Louis-Jean, 30, played just two games soon after joining City from Nottingham Forest two years ago but then suffered a serious hamstring injury - and hasn't played since. The decision to release him was announced earlier this year.

Thetford-born Henderson, 22, on loan at Rotherham since January, scored six times in 79 appearances - 31 of them starts - but seldom had the chance to play in his preferred position as a central striker.

“I felt that if we extended his contract we would be clogging his career up and it is important for him that he plays games,” said Grant.

“I'm very pleased with the way he has performed, but I felt it was time for a fresh start and I wish him nothing but success.”

Fisk, 19, appeared in pre-season matches last summer but never played a first team game and is on loan at King's Lynn, managed by his former City reserve team boss, Keith Webb.

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