Out of Contract Players: Predictions

Posted by on March 8, 2012 in General | 1 comment

So, we’ve got a bunch of players who don’t know if they’ll be with the club next season. Assuming that we stay up, as is looking likely, let’s have a look at which are likely to still be Norwich players on opening day of the 12/13 season…

Zak Whitbread

The player who’s post match comments started this. Zak has been in good form of late, recovering after some poor performances around mid-season. He has cut the mistakes from his game and put in several man-of-the-match games, firmly claiming a place in Lambert’s no.1 pairing. He’s had a stop start time at Norwich but has, in the end, proven the faith that Sir Paul has placed in him, and for this I suspect another deal is in the offing. A popular player, and an in form one… you don’t replace him for nothing.

Elliott Ward

A tougher one. Ward was excellent in his first season (in my eyes – some disagree), but has had horrid luck in his second, having only just returned from injury. He put in two excellent performances on his return, against Swansea and Man Utd, but was notable for his part in the Stoke goal at the weekend. At this point, you have to look at the competition; Ayala and Bennett are certain squad members for the future, and Zak is likely to stay. With this in mind, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Ward move on with either Barnett (who has a longer contract) taking up the 4th CB spot, or another new face brought in. On the other hand, Lambert clearly rates the guy.. but I feel his future is less certain than Zak.

Adam Drury

What a pro. He’s proved a lot of people wrong with his consistent performances when called upon this season, making the loss of Tierney to injury less of a concern than it would have been. You know what you’re getting with Drury, and I wonder if he’ll be kept around as a wise older-head more than anything else. However, with limited squad places and budgets, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Drury was released this summer. The question then is whether Drury retires with a testimonial and a great career at the club, or decides to play for a couple more years at a lower level. Somewhere local would make sense, perhaps even a move back to Posh for one or two years, playing at a good level for a club he knows that wouldn’t require upping sticks.

David Fox

I didn’t know Fox was out of contract until the press said so this week and if he isn’t resigned then, quite frankly, I will be very pissed off. Every week it seems that more and more people are beginning to understand the role Fox has in this team, and he is getting the credit that belongs to him. He makes us tick in the middle, is dependable and is one of the best ball players we have. He isn’t going to be cheaply replaced, and letting him leave would be a mistake. Another contract has to be offered here.

Declan Rudd

Hard to see anything but another contract offered. Rudd is getting to the point where he will want regular football, and with Steer proving himself a capable backup it may well be the case that Rudd is wished well on his way. I do not believe this will be the case though, and I think Rudd will get a new deal before one of the youngsters is sent off on loan for as season. Young, promising English keepers don’t grow on trees (even at Colney), so you don’t just give them away..

Aaron Wilbraham

An interesting one. Wilbraham is beginning to get the support he deserves from Norwich fans after a year where he has worked hard to little fanfare. Ultimately, the only person that matters in this is Paul Lambert, and he has made very clear that he both rates Wilbs and wants him around the squad. As much of this is because of his attitude off the pitch; he is known as a model pro and good influence around the club, and his character is as important as anything else. While Wilbraham may not be good enough for the Premier League as a regular, he has been a more than adequate substitute in recent games, and it would not surprise me at all to see Lambert give him a one year extension while the club continues to grow.

Tom Adeyemi

Tom is enjoying a valuable loan spell at Oldham at the moment, and by all accounts he is a solid, if inconsistent, member of their squad. At 20 years old, Adeyemi is now at an age where first team football is beginning to matter, and he is not yet at that level for Norwich. Tom may well be given another contract with Norwich and again farmed out on loan, but I would not be surprised to see him released to find a permanent club where he can build a more reliable future. A promising midfielder, it is still the case that at 20 you would be showing signs of whether or not you are good enough for this level; he is no longer a ‘youth’ player. In fact he is just a few months younger than Joe Allen, a first teamer at Swansea. With this in mind, whether Adeyemi stays or goes, I see little impact from him on the first team.

Josh Dawkin

The same can be said of Josh, who too has recently turned 20. With a couple of solid loan spells under his belt and a lot of reserve football, Josh is still yet to break into the Norwich team, something that you would have expected to happen by 20. Again, Josh may well be offered a deal and farmed out on loan. However, with first team football likely to be on his mind, a move may well be more likely.

Matt Ball

18 year old Ball is more likely to stay, I feel, given his growth in the reserve team this year and age. Ball is yet to be farmed out on loan and by all accounts is doing well. I feel they are more likely to give him a chance to prove himself  than the others, taking his age into account, so a couple of years on a new deal is likely. It ties neither down and will likely give Ball the security to develop his game on loan while Norwich judge his ability in competitive action.

Simeon Jackson

Simeon has a one year option on his contract that I would be stunned if the club didn’t activate. He’s been a solid member of the squad and is getting better as the weeks go on. Even if Lambert didn’t see him as a vital part of the first team squad next year, there’s no chance he’ll be let to walk without the club making a tidy profit on the player they spent about £600k on. He’ll get an extension.

Korey Smith

Korey is another player with a one year option, and it’s hard to see this not being used. He has been a reliable servant for Lambert, but has struggled to get the games he perhaps feels he deserves since the middle of last season. This year he has suffered a bit with injury, but is proving himself with a good loan spell at Barnsley. Korey is likely to get his chance in the Premier League, especially when you consider the struggles Crofts’ has had in stepping up to this level, and Bradley Johnson’s dip in form. There is likely to be a vacancy for a tough running deep midfielder, and it just might be his chance to take.

George Francomb

George is another of our youngsters enjoying first team football out on loan, this time at Hibs. They’re going through a tough time but it sounds like George is putting in some creditable performances. Right back is going to be an interesting position in the summer, with Russell Martin struggling there in recent weeks (especially compared to his performances at centreback), and Naughton likely to be high on Lambert’s wish list. Francomb may well be kept on to provide backup and youth at the position, with another loan in the offing if Lambert is able to bring in reinforcements.

1 Comment

  1. Agree with you on most counts. Whitbread, Fox and Jackson are absolute essentials, and the sooner they are tied up the better. Ward, I believe will stay too. It’s Barnett who will be sold; even if he is on a longer contract he is a lesser player. Korey Smith, I agree to should be retained, in fact I was sorry his loan was extended at Barnsley, would rather have had him back and PL already trying him as an alternative to Crofts and Johnson, neither of whom I rate at all. Francomb and Ball are also worth keeping, and I am sure Rudd will stay too. This season has proved that 3 goalkeepers are not too many. The most interesting person in this may be Drury, whether if he stays there is another more coaching oriented role he can be given too. I’d be sorry to see him leave yet, for me, like Simon Lappin, he is symbolic of PL’s (and Cully’s) man management skills and ability to build a team that will always work for each other and perform, even when people spend lengthy spells on the sidelines. There is also a suggestion in here, and in your comments, that there might not be much change in the summer – another 2-3 additions, 4 at the most. That will be interesting to see, given how rarely PL is predictable.

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