Worthy - Top-flight interest in Clingan no surprise

Michael Bailey Sammy Clingan has revealed Norwich City turned down a bid from Premier League Fulham during last month's transfer window.

Michael Bailey

Sammy Clingan has revealed Norwich City turned down a bid from Premier League Fulham during last month's transfer window.

There is already a sizeable Northern Ireland contingent at Craven Cottage, including skipper Aaron Hughes and defender Chris Baird, and with Adrian Leijer joining Norwich from Fulham and Elliott Omozusi heading in the opposite direction, it appears there was at least one more transfer conversation between Carrow Road and west London.

Clingan, who signed on a free transfer from Nottingham Forest in the summer, has arguably been City's top performer of the season - something that clearly has not escaped the attention of Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, who made an approach to the Championship strugglers in January.

However, it was rejected by the Norwich board, who flatly refused to even consider the deal and discussions were not taken any further.

“I take it as a huge compliment that Norwich want to keep me and I respect the decision to turn Fulham down,” said Clingan. “It's my dream to play in the Premier League and I really want to achieve that ambition. But if Norwich aren't happy to sell then they were quite entitled to say 'no' to Fulham.

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“I'm really enjoying myself at Norwich and even though the results haven't being going well this season I firmly believe that our fortunes will turn around next season.

“We aren't going to be able to challenge for the play-offs this season but I don't see why, with the injection of a few new faces in the summer, we can't be challenging in 12 months time.

“I'd love to go up with Norwich - that would be fantastic because I really do feel at home at this club. If that's not to be then hopefully it will happen with another club,” Clingan told the Belfast Telegraph.

“But really there's no point even thinking about that at the minute because my sole focus this week is on helping Northern Ireland overcome San Marino and then I'll turn my attentions back to Norwich at the weekend.”

Clingan was all set to start Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against San Marino on Wednesday, despite missing Monday's training because of a thigh strain, but he failed a fitness test on Tuesday and will now miss out.

Current international boss and former Norwich manager Nigel Worthington is a big fan of Clingan and believes midfielder is more than capable of competing on English football's biggest stage.

“I wasn't aware of the interest from Fulham but I'm not surprised,” said Worthington. “Sammy has played consistently well for me during my time as Northern Ireland manager and I would be delighted to see him playing in the Premier League. He certainly wouldn't look out of place.”