Canary officials might be staying very tight-lipped over the future of England Under-21 keeper Joe Lewis, but Posh boss Darren Ferguson was far less reticent this morning – telling the Peterborough Evening Telegraph that the bright, Canary goalkeeping prospect had asked for the weekend to ponder the record-breaking move.
Equally, Ferguson Jnr was keen to stress to the London Road faithful that their ?400,000 pursuit of a 20-year-old that had yet to make a first team appearance at Carrow Road was a signal of Posh's new-found ambition – or rather, their new-found riches after the arrival of Irish property magnate chairman Darragh McAnthony at the helm.
“To get the calibre of player I'm after you sometimes need to spend big money. It's a big fee, but I believe it's a fair one because we would be getting one of the best young goalkeepers in the country,” Ferguson told the Telegraph today, as the transfer merry-go-round starts to fire into life.
Speaking at Colney this morning, City boss Glenn Roeder insisted that – for now – it all remained purely speculation.
There would, however, appear to be little doubt from Ferguson's remarks that the Canaries have given Lewis the opportunity to speak to the League Two club. Indeed, reports suggested that he was at London Road last night to discuss his personal terms.
From the Canaries point of view, with David Marshall now firmly established as the club's No1 and Matty Gilks fast returning to full fitness following his ankle injury, the chances of giving Lewis the first team football he so enjoyed on loan at Morecombe look slim. Beyond Lewis and City also have two England Youth keepers on the books in the shape of Declan Rudd and Jed Steer.
Equally sharing the occasional Pontins Holidays Reserve league fixture with Gilks is probably not that much of an enticement for a young man that has just forced his way into Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 squad on the back of his eye-catching efforts at Christie Park under Sammy McIlroy.
Given that Ferguson sees that ?400,000 fee as an investment in a future, bigger sale, the big trick from Norwich's point of view would be to protect themsleves with a Dean Ashton-like, 15% sell-on clause – something that could net the Canaries a ?400,000 windfall should the Hammers' striker move on for ?10 million this January.
In Lewis' case, that figure could be higher given the lower starting point of ?400,000 – as opposed to nearer ?7.25 million for Ashton's signature.
“That would make it an investment for the future, but it also sends a message out to our fans and to other clubs how serious we all are in taking this club forward,” said Ferguson this morning, as he used that record-breaking fee as a sign of Posh's intent.
“Fair play to the chairman because he has again put his money where his mouth is as far as backing me is concerned,” he added.
The whole deal was not, however, done and dusted.
Again, if you're sat in the Lewis camp this weekend and you were playing cute, you might just wait to see who else might be out there given that you already – apparently – had an agreed price on your head. No point in rushing these decisions if, for example, you could find a League One club waiting in the wings that Norwich could likewise do business with.
“I just hope that Joe will sign,” Ferguson told the Telegraph, revealing the “whirlwind” of events that led to Lewis' possible exit being one of the early surprises of this transfer window.
“He didn't know anything about the move until late on Wednesday night so it's been a bit of a whirlwind for him. He has asked for the weekend to talk things over with his family which is fair enough,” said Ferguson, as he looks to oust Norwich-born Mark Tyler from his thinking and replace him with, at six-foot five-inches, something rather taller.
“Joe has a huge presence and I like that in a goalkeeper,” said Ferguson, demonstrating the same ruthless managerial streak as his old man. Tyler's 500-odd appearances for Posh appears to count for little.
“If we have a slight achilles heel in our side it's the lack of height at the back and Joe's presence would ensure that. He's also agile, has good hands and he kicks well. He has the whole package and he would be a quality capture,” said Ferguson, who will now be forced to play Tyler in the FA Cup clash at Colchester United tomorrow as Lewis ponders his next move.
“I have spoken to Mark Tyler about the situation and he understands what we are trying to do. If I get Joe I would have two excellent goalkeepers at the club and that would be a great position to be in,” added Ferguson.