Waiting game over City duo is up in the air

DAVID CUFFLEY Manager Peter Grant admitted the future of his two oldest senior players was still up in the air after Norwich City's Coca-Cola Championship season ended in defeat.


Manager Peter Grant admitted the future of his two oldest senior players was still up in the air after Norwich City's Coca-Cola Championship season ended in defeat.

After the Canaries wrapped up their campaign with a 3-2 reverse at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday, Grant was unable to say whether veteran Dion Dublin or on-loan goalkeeper Tony Warner would be back next season.

Both players had mixed afternoons at Hillsborough, with 38-year-old Dublin scoring City's second goal but blamed by his boss for Wednesday's second, while Warner blotted another sound display by kicking thin air and allowing Dickson Etuhu's return pass to roll into the net for the Owls' third.

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“It's probably the first mistake he's made since he came here. He's been excellent for us,” said Grant of Warner's unlucky 13th appearance after arriving on loan from Fulham - but whether he adds to that tally remains to be seen.

Warner, 32, said after City's previous defeat by Southampton that his future had yet to be discussed.

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“I'm looking for a goalkeeper, there's no doubt of that, I've never hidden the fact,” said Grant. “Tony's done very, very well for me but there are a million reasons why he maybe will not come back because it depends what happens at Fulham, it depends who becomes the manager. Does the new manager like him, does the new manager not like him?

“He's got a year left on the contract. What sort of salary is he on? Is he willing to take a drop in salary to come and play for us? There are all these questions but obviously he's one I'll be looking at closely.

“With Norwich's five top players, I think there are two goalkeepers in there with 400-odd and 600-odd appearances or something, so that's how the goalkeeper used to be, so I need to try to get back to somebody with that quality.”

Dublin also erred, said the City boss, by letting Deon Burton slip off the radar to score from Kenny Lunt's corner.

“The most experienced player, Dion, let's Burton go, and that was actually his job. He has put his hand up for that,” said Grant.

“You're talking about your two most experienced players. With Tony, that mistake could happen to anybody and Dion let his marker go, so it's not as if you're talking about young boys. It cost us two goals.”

As for the offer of a one-year contract at Carrow Road, Dublin has still to make his decision.

“He's just got time to go up and see his family now,” said Grant. “I think that's important, it's not a two-day conversation. I'll probably be looking for an answer at the start of the following week because I need to know what I need to replace. I know what I need to replace in most places, if the big 'un's going to be here or he's not going to be here.

“If he's not here, he's been fantastic for me. He's been absolutely brilliant and I wish him nothing but success because he deserves it.

“I hope he stays, but if he doesn't we'll go a different route and get somebody else. No use moping and moaning about it.”

Dublin insisted he had yet to make a decision over his future despite his salute to 2,000 City fans after yesterday's game, and a big ovation from the home crowd as he left the field.

He said: “It was me saying thanks for your support this season. And thanks for travelling so far today.

“I'll go and have talks with my family and do what's right for them - if that means signing for Norwich next season then I will do that.

“I've only got one decision to make and we all know what that is - it's to do what's best for my family."

Dublin said that whatever happens he will look upon his time at Norwich as a very happy period in his career.

“I can only say thank you to the fans for taking me to their hearts this year. They have been so good to me.

“The respect I've got from the players is great. The staff have been great. I have not got one bad thing to say about Norwich City Football Club."

Dublin is confident that he still has at least one more season left in his legs.

“I feel that I can still affect a game,” said the former England international. “I think that there's a little bit left in the legs - definitely another season.

“The hunger will never go away. Even when I retire, that will never go away. When I retire and I'm doing whatever I'm doing then I'll still want to get out there.

“I haven't scored for a while. It's what I do, that's my job and what I feel like I have to do in my job.

“I've played a lot at centre half - it's very satisfying going up and winning headers and keeping clean sheets. But to score today on my last game was superb.”

But he said City's performance was “slightly embarrassing”.

He said: “The second half was better and we showed a little bit of something that was needed in the first half.”

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