City boss Chris Hughton today continued to reward those that had served his predecessor so well by handing Canary keeper John Ruddy a new, four-year deal.
With the club enjoying the option of a further year thereafter, it potentially ties the 25-year-old to Carrow Road until 2017. Even then, aged 30, Ruddy’s best years as a No1 could still be in front of him.
More importantly, today’s new deal for the newly-married England hopeful represents another significant step in putting some long-term, squad thinking in place – coming as it does on the back of the three-year deals for first Russell Martin and then Andrew Surman.
Far from demolishing the house that Paul Lambert built, Hughton is building on the Scot’s secure foundations.
Equally, he is demonstrating his intent to Canary skipper Grant Holt who remains – for now – in something of a summer limbo-land; his transfer request still sat in the manager’s in-tray.
The sight of Messrs Martin, Surman and Ruddy holding new deals may yet soften his stance over an additional year to his current deal.
“I am delighted to have secured John’s future at the club for another four years,” Hughton told the club’s official website today, as he cracked on with business ahead of the start of pre-season training in a fortnight’s time.
With England Youth internationals Declan Rudd and Jed Steer jostling for the manager’s favour in the queue behind Ruddy, Hughton can now tick off his goalkeeping department as ‘Job done!’ this summer.
“John has made some fantastic progress over the past couple of years,” Hughton added.
“He’s an integral part of the club’s future and his great work over the past couple of years has seen him work his way into the England squad with his call-up this summer and, hopefully, he can continue his great progress now for years to come.”
Unfortunately, of course, Ruddy’s involvement in Roy Hodgson’s Euro2012 plans proved somewhat short-lived as he broke his ring finger in training.
He is, however, expected to be well on the mend by the time the squad return for their summer pre-season schedule.
As with Martin and Surman before him, it clearly wasn’t that hard a sell persuading the former Everton keeper to commit his family’s future to a life in Norfolk.
“I love the atmosphere around the place and it’s a fantastic club to play for,” he likewise told the club website.
“We’ve got a new manager coming in too, who I’m looking forward to working with. But the main thing for me is that my family are really settled here as well.
“My lad starts school in September, so it’s nice to get a bit of security for them too,” he added.
That Ruddy deserves his new deal is certainly not in doubt.
Not without good reason did he push Holt hard for Player of the Season; he did, however, get the dressing room vote by winning the ‘Players Player of the Season’ award.
With his place pretty much set in stone, Hughton will have to think long and hard as to how he manages the two young guns in his wake. Steer enjoyed a loan spell at Yeovil before finding himself deputising for an injured Rudd towards the end of the season.
Whether that proves to be the plan again – with the younger of the two prospects continuing his education on loan elsewhere – remains to be seen.
What is certain is that Hughton has bolted another big piece of his long-term jigsaw in place tonight; a third, senior squad member likewise committing himself to the Canary cause.
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