Worthington insists his City time has gone

Michael Bailey Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has sensationally turned down a return to Norwich City as Glenn Roeder’s successor.A statement on the Irish FA’s website read: “On Thursday evening, the Irish FA turned down a request from Norwich City FC to speak to the Northern Ireland manager (Nigel Worthington) with regards to their vacant managerial position.

Michael Bailey

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington has emerged as the man Norwich's board have targeted as the club's Championship saviour - two seasons after pocketing a �600,000 pay off.

The Irish FA (IFA) rejected an approach from the Canaries to speak to their former manager regarding the Carrow Road vacancy in the wake of Glenn Roeder's midweek exit.

City chief executive Neil Doncaster refused to confirm Norwich had earmarked North-Norfolk based Worthington for a shock return following his dismissal in October 2006.

Doncaster did reveal Norwich had not ruled out an interim appointment after finally breaking City's self-imposed silence since Roeder's swift departure on Tuesday.

Club stalwart Bryan Gunn is set to be placed in temporary charge for Norwich's vital Championship home test against fellow strugglers Barnsley alongside academy coach Ricky Martin and Tommy Wright.

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“We have to date made a number of inquires to different people and teams about the availability of different managers - either on a permanent or a caretaker basis,” said Doncaster. “But no formal offers or approaches have yet been made to anyone. The board will take the time to consider the huge number of high quality applications we have received to manage Norwich City FC with a view to making an appointment as soon as possible.”

Worthington guided City into the Premiership in 2004 but the club were relegated at Fulham on the final day of the following season.

The Northern Irishman's six year tenure ended on a sour note two seasons later but the club's 2007 set of published accounts revealed full details of his six-figure compensation package.

Worthington has previously pulled off a similar fire fighting role when he guided Leicester to Championship safety in the final five matches of the 2007 season.

The former City chief, however, appeared to rule out a return to his former club after pledging his immediate future to helping plot Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign.

“I am happy to focus on a job I am enjoying,” he said. “I spoke to the president about the situation and we are both happy that it was in the best interests of the association and myself that any offer from Norwich be rejected. I had a successful time at Norwich although the last six months were a bit hairy when tough times hit.

“I still live in north Norfolk but I have done the Norwich job and have now moved on and am really enjoying my role with Northern Ireland.”

Worthington's current employers issued a public 'hands off' warning on the Irish FA web site.

It read: “On Thursday evening the Irish FA turned down a request from Norwich City FC to speak to the Northern Ireland Manager (Nigel Worthington) with regards to their vacant managerial position. Nigel is currently making preparations for the up and coming World Cup Qualifiers and is fully focused and committed to his job as the Northern Ireland International manager.”

Worthington has a get out clause in his current Northern Ireland deal which runs until the end of the current year but IFA President Raymond Kennedy confirmed the football association would be entitled to significant compensation.

City's move for Worthington dampened speculation former Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd was poised to succeed Roeder. The ex-Norwich academy boss is now odds on with bookmakers after a flurry of bets. Unemployed managerial colleague Colin Calderwood has been installed as second favourite following steady market support late yesterday . Calderwood was dismissed by City's fellow Championship strugglers Notts Forest last month.

“Everything has been for Boothroyd,” said SkyBet spokesman Dale Tempest. “We are now 4-7 from an initial 5-2 and we haven't really had a penny on anybody else. Everybody wants to be with Boothroyd. About 50pc of the bets we have struck have all been for Boothroyd - if we get to the position where it is more than that and no money is coming in for another person then we would suspend the market.

“The money doesn't usually get it wrong - that's what dictates in football management markets. The biggest we have had was �150 at 5-2 and there have been a few hundreds and fifties.”