Canaries close to Huckerby deal

DARREN Huckerby could be lining up for Norwich against Ipswich in Sunday's East Anglian derby after all.In a remarkable turnaround, the Canaries today confirmed they had agreed a fee with Manchester City for a player who was a huge hit during his three months on loan at Carrow Road.

DARREN Huckerby could be lining up for Norwich against Ipswich in Sunday's East Anglian derby after all.

In a remarkable turnaround, the Canaries today confirmed they had agreed a fee with Manchester City for a player who was a huge hit during his three months on loan at Carrow Road.

But First Division leaders West Bromwich Albion and ambitious Wigan are also in the hunt after agreeing to meet City's asking price.

Norwich are willing to pay £750,000 up front, with a further £250,000 being handed over if they are promoted to the Premiership.

It seemed Huckerby had departed for good when he ended his temporary stint on a high at the weekend, playing a leading role in the 4-1 demolition of promotion rivals Cardiff City.

But today's sensational development means the 27-year-old could be back for Sunday's eagerly-awaited noon showdown at Portman Road.

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Norwich boss Nigel Worthington said: "It was nice to be able to agree a fee with Manchester City. We've now got to wait and be patient and see how it all pans out."

It was Ipswich manager Joe Royle, when he was charge at Maine Road, who paid Leeds £3million for Huckerby in December 2000.

Royle said today: "I don't comment on who other clubs might be buying – that's their business.

"Sunday's game will be about us and how well we play, so I'm not concerned about who we might or might not be facing."

Despite other clubs' interest in the speedy striker, Norwich will be hoping they are firmly in the driving seat after his successful loan stint.

He went on record at the weekend as saying he would have loved to stay on at a club where the fans took him to their hearts from day one.

But it seems there is still a long way to go before Huckerby arrives back in Norfolk on a permanent basis.

One possible stumbling block is the £1.5million that he is owed for the remaining 18 months of his Manchester City contract and which of his pursuers comes closest to picking up the tab.

The move comes less than 24 hours after Worthington challenged the Carrow Road directors to go that extra mile financially in Norwich's hot pursuit of a place in the Premiership – asking whether the board's ambition matched that of his own.

West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace declared: "We are pleased Manchester City has accepted an offer, but it is not a done deal by any means. We still have to agree personal terms with Darren Huckerby and his agent."

Peace's counterpart at Wigan, Dave Whelan, echoed these sentiments, saying: "We have had an offer for Darren Huckerby accepted and he will be a great signing for us, but we are still in talks with Kevin Keegan and Manchester City."

Meanwhile, Royle confirmed he was in the hunt for a goalkeeper after reserve Lewis Price was ruled out for two months after suffering torn ligaments in a finger.

Experienced keeper Andy Marshall has signed a two-week extension to his one-month loan deal with Wolves that will take him up to the opening of the transfer window in January, when he will be looking for a permanent move there or elsewhere.

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