Sheffield United linked with Croft

Paddy Davitt Norwich wide boy Lee Croft is reportedly ready to snub a new City deal to join Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United. The 23-year-old is free to talk to potential suitors next month with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

Paddy Davitt

Norwich wide boy Lee Croft is reportedly ready to snub a new City deal to join Championship promotion hopefuls Sheffield United.

The 23-year-old is free to talk to potential suitors next month with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

Croft was linked with Midlands heavyweights West Brom, Birmingham and Wolves after his derby day heroics against Ipswich.


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But Blades boss Kevin Blackwell is reportedly poised to offer Croft a chance to return north in his bid to pep up his side's promotion push.

Blackwell has targeted a wide player to supply the ammunition for potent strike force James Beattie and Darius Henderson to maintain seventh-placed United's play-off surge. Blades scouts are believed to have run the rule over Oldham's young wide player Chris Taylor ahead of a potential New Year move but Blackwell insisted recently he is keeping his options open.

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"We've been looking at loads of people," he said. "We have around 15 scouts out at games every weekend so it doesn't take much for people to see them at a game and then put two and two together. To be fair there are probably six we're looking at more than most. But I'm not going to confirm or deny anything because that way it keeps everyone on their toes."

Blackwell also allowed ex-Manchester United and Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie to join Championship strugglers Charlton on loan last month. City could be prepared to cash in on one of the club's few saleable assets or risk Croft leaving on a free transfer in the summer.

Championship title contenders Birmingham and Wolves appear to have cooled their initial reported interest with the West Midlands rivals now vying for Chelsea's young starlet Scott Sinclair.

Croft carved his place in City folklore with a stunning opener in Norwich's recent 2-0 win over Ipswich before following up with a rare header in the league defeat at Watford. The former Manchester City trainee has finally established himself in Glenn Roeder's starting line up this season after a stop-start Norwich career since his £600,000 signing in July 2006.

Meanwhile, Roeder has again been linked with long time City striking target Andy Bishop. Former City chief Peter Grant was a confirmed admirer of the Bury hitman who saw a move to East Anglian rivals Ipswich fall through last summer.

Bishop scored twice to dump City out of the FA Cup last season and the 26-year-old is again back among the goals with the Shakers second in League Two behind early pace setters Wycombe. The powerful striker has plundered 43 goals in 106 league appearances since moving to Gigg Lane in May 2006 but a clutch of Championship clubs have been put on red alert with Bishop yet to sign a new deal.

Shakers boss Alan Knill admits he is desperate to keep his main marksman, saying: "We are in preliminary talks with Andy Bishop about extending his contract.

"Really it was to see what Andy felt about it and it went quite well, so hopefully we will know within the next week where we are going to go with it. We don't want him to leave, that's the bottom line and if we can sort out a deal to keep him here, then that's really the way forward for us.

"He is a quality goal scorer and there may be clubs looking at him and they can offer him more money, but we will try our best to keep him here."

Roeder could be in the market for fresh firepower with Antoine Sibierski and Leroy Lita both expected to return to their parent clubs after their current loan spells and recent signing Carl Cort yet to prove his fitness after long term injury problems.

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