City have completed the signing of Everton goalkeeper John Ruddy in a move which casts doubt over a possible return for Fraser Forster.
It appears that Paul Lambert’s patience has finally run out after numerous phone calls to Newcastle chief Chris Hughton this summer, and he has swopped for the highly-rated Ruddy, who started his career down the A11 at Cambridge United.
The former Toffees man has signed a three-year-deal for the customary ‘undisclosed’ fee, and after starring between the sticks for Motherwell on loan last season in the SPL, it is unlikely that the 23-year-old has come to Carrow Road to sit on the bench.
St Ives-born Ruddy began his pro career at the Abbey Stadium and made his debut in the final game of the 2003/04 season at Leyton Orient, which was noticeable for a clean sheet and penalty save.
He had a trial at Manchester United in November 2004 before moving to Everton in the following summer for a fee of around £250,000, reportedly rising with appearances.
He has found a first-team spot hard to come by at Goodison Park, however, and has spent most of his time out on loan, with spells at Walsall, Rushden and Diamonds, Chester, Wrexham, Stockport, Bristol City and Crewe.
But it was last year while north of the border where Ruddy started to blossom, and even though he clearly enjoyed his time at Motherwell, where Lambert once plied his trade of course, he was always keen on a return to England. Now he has got his wish.
“The SPL is a great league but, if I’m being completely honest, my first option would be going back down to England, purely for my family.
“I’ve got a young boy and to be six hours away from grandparents is not ideal. Liverpool is three hours away and that’s far enough.”
His time at Fir Park certainly impressed ‘Well boss Craig Brown though, and the former Scotland manager put Ruddy on a par with some of the Tartan Army’s greats, including Jim Leighton and Andy Goram. High praise indeed.
“You don’t excel as a goalkeeper until your late 20s,” said Brown, speaking in March.
“Goram had played for Oldham, Hibs, Rangers and Scotland by that stage and Leighton had 91 caps and 45 shut-outs for Scotland. At the moment, Ruddy is showing the potential to be as good as these guys.
“Andy always said you can’t tell a keeper until he has played with a big club. He was referring to how good Craig Gordon is but adding that he is not at a big club with the test of playing at the top in Europe, as Jim did with Manchester United and Aberdeen and he did at Rangers.”
David Moyes once described him as an “England goalkeeper in the making” and one-time Motherwell chief Jim Gannon said he was the “best goalkeeper in Scotland” last season.
Let’s just hope he can live up to the billing and make a real impact for the Canaries in the Championship next season, with or without Forster in the building.