Norwich boss Paul Lambert sprung an early summer surprise today by releasing vice-captain Gary Doherty along with four other Canary players.
Doherty, who came third in the supporters’ Player of the Year vote, ended up being a key figure after Lambert dropped the 30-year-old upon his arrival in Norfolk.
But the City boss obviously feels he won’t be able to cut it at Championship level; it is still a surprise move, however, considering he made 44 appearances in a title-winning team this year.
The others who will now have to search for pastures new are Jamie Cureton, Paul McVeigh and youngsters Damon Lathrope and Danny Kelly. And for three Canaries with a strong association with the club, it’s the end of an era.
“Gary has done really well for us and played a big part this season,” said Lambert, speaking to the club’s official website, www.canaries.co.uk.
“He came back really strongly after being dropped early in the season and got himself into the team on merit with some excellent performances. He leaves the club after nearly six years of solid service and we’re grateful for all the effort he’s put in for Norwich during that time.
“Gary’s a great lad and a great professional and I’m sure he’ll take away some brilliant memories from his time at Norwich, including this season.”
The City chief also paid tribute to Messrs Cureton and McVeigh after their second spells at Carrow Road ended today. The decision to let these two go, however, didn’t come as such a surprise.
“Like all of the squad involved this year Paul McVeigh has done his bit when called upon. He’s another one who has played a lot of games for this club over the years and we’d like to thank him for his work in games and at Colney during our time here as well.
“Jamie Cureton has gone away and had a loan spell with Shrewsbury which I think was the right thing to do to get himself games considering how many strikers we have at the Club. Jamie’s scored an impressive number of goals in his career and we also want to thank him for his time with us.”
Finally, there was a quick word on Academy products Lathrope and Kelly, who will now be hoping to kick-start their careers at a lower level after failing to make the grade in Norfolk.
Republic of Ireland Under-19 captain Kelly agreed a one-year deal after impressing during his two-year scholarship and he continued his progress in 2008-09 by playing regularly for the reserves.
This season, he was named as an unused substitute in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy games at both Gillingham and Swindon.
Lathrope was handed a first pro deal by former boss Glenn Roeder in January 2008 but despite being around the first-team setup for a while, his slight frame may count against him in the long term.
“Danny and Damon are two young lads who have come up from our Academy and worked really hard. I just think their opportunities to progress here would be limited and hopefully they will find clubs where they can get first team action under their belts and continue their development.
“Everyone at Carrow Road and Colney wants to wish all of these players all the very best for the future.”