Ruddy vital to Norwich City’s EPL expansion plan

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Paul Thomas/Getty ImagesNorwich City remained steadfast when Chelsea made overtures for goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Chris Hughton's assertion after Norwich City's 1-1 friendly draw at Brighton last week that John Ruddy will be Norwich City's number one goalkeeper was less a statement of fact by the manager and more an insight into the Canaries’ long-term commitment to growth.

Chelsea's public courting of the 26-year-old City keeper earlier this summer inevitably raised fears the Carrow Road club's summer squad overhaul may acquire a hitherto unforeseen dimension.

The concerted efforts of Hughton and Norwich's board in the close season market have been designed to build on solid foundations; not broker the idea of watching one of the foundation's stones dislodged and deposited at Stamford Bridge.

Whatever the internal machinations that occurred at the highest levels between the clubs and the reported sparks resulting from one bid crashing against rumoured improved bid set against the helpful backdrop of informed sources, the Blues had clearly identified Ruddy as a prospective experienced back-up to Petr Cech.

Jose Mourinho’s willingness to sanction another tour of duty in Spain for the prodigiously talented Belgian Thibaut Courtois at Atletico Madrid and the departure of Ross Turnbull only added a degree of urgency to his search. Norwich City's firm refusal to do business eventually prompted Chelsea to move for free agent Mark Schwarzer.

The Canaries, one can be sure, have a valuation on all their top talent; in that regard they are no different than their more illustrious Premier League rivals. The talent drain that has sucked the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and potentially Gareth Bale away from England --- underlines no club can seek solace in a protectionist stance to ward off prospective suitors.

Ruddy’s consistent Premier League displays before a serious thigh injury robbed him of five months last season catapulted him into the England international setup. The St Ives' stopper is clearly in the front rank of domestic goalkeepers. If Chelsea harboured genuine ambitions to pry him from Carrow Road, they singularly failed to appreciate Ruddy’s residual value to the Canaries.

Paul Lambert rescued him from a nomadic existence during a series of loan moves which peppered a teenage career move to Everton that ultimately failed to unlock his undoubted potential. Ruddy has since flourished in Norfolk; his athletic ability is matched by a character capable of inheriting Fraser Forster's mantle.

Forster, the former Newcastle loanee, proved a stellar presence in Norwich's League One 2009-10 title success before returning north to forge his own growing reputation at Celtic. Many questioned if Ruddy could scale similar heights, but his form has been central to Norwich’s concerted stab at Premier League consolidation.

The summer arrivals of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer have predictably dominated the headlines and raise the prospect of good times ahead when Norwich's third consecutive Premier League season begins on August 17 against Everton.

Yet Ruddy’s enduring presence as the last line and the Canaries' refusal to engage with Chelsea is arguably a sliver of transfer business that carries greater ramifications for the Carrow Road club in the months ahead.

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