| 6.5°C Belfast

Newcastle set to make Jamal Lewis the most expensive Northern Ireland player after tabling £13.5m bid


Jamal Lewis in action against Romania

Jamal Lewis in action against Romania

William Cherry/Presseye

Jamal Lewis in action against Romania

Jamal Lewis is poised to become Northern Ireland's most expensive player in history with Newcastle United closing in on a £13.5m deal for the rampaging Norwich City left-back.

The Canaries, who were relegated from the Premier League, are understood to have accepted the offer from the St James' Park club, which could rise by a further £5m with additional add-ons including a sell-on clause.

If the deal goes through, it would greatly eclipse Northern Ireland's current record of £8m that Middlesbrough paid for the services of George Saville from Millwall.

Lewis is in the Northern Ireland camp at the Culloden Hotel after playing against Romania on Friday and is preparing for tomorrow night's Nations League clash against Norway at Windsor Park.

But boss Ian Baraclough last night insisted he does not expect the 22-year-old, capped 13 times, to leave the squad and fly to Newcastle in order to agree personal terms and take a medical.

He said: "He won't be leaving the camp, he's been part of the group which did some recovery and, as I've heard nothing, I'm hoping he's at dinner!"

It will be an immediate return to the Premier League for Lewis, should Newcastle snap him up.

Premier League champions Liverpool bid £10m for the Luton lad last month but that was flatly rejected by the Canaries, who considered the offer derisory, especially with his contract at Carrow Road running to 2023.

Lewis, who played in 28 games as the Canaries went down last season, was wanted by Liverpool as back-up for Andy Robertson but, after their bid was rejected, they looked elsewhere.

Leicester City were also believed to be interested but nothing ever materialised.

Baraclough admitted he spoke to Lewis yesterday and that his sole focus at present is on Northern Ireland.

"There are a lot of clubs being linked with him," stated Baraclough.

"He knows that at the right time, he and his family will make a decision which will benefit him. Because one club doesn't happen for him doesn't mean other clubs aren't interested.

"I'm sure clubs are talking to Norwich without him knowing and he won't want to know anything until perhaps a bid is accepted or a club wants to speak to him. He knows if he does well for Northern Ireland, he's in the shop window.

"I spoke to Jamal before we came in and again face to face in camp, his head's in a good place. He knows chances may come and go, club speculation, but he deals with that very well. I've not noticed any disappointment in his work or in his play, he's okay.

"The window is open until mid-October, and we know transfer activity will be rife in the closing days and it might go down to the wire."

With Jonny Evans available to play again after dealing with his 'personal issue' and Lewis expected to line out against the Norwegians despite the transfer interest, Baraclough has no major injury concerns.

Young centre-back Daniel Ballard, who impressed on debut in Bucharest in place of Evans alongside Craig Cathcart in the heart of Northern Ireland's defence, was dealing with the effects of cramp yesterday, while Rangers winger Jordan Jones and Aberdeen's Matty Kennedy may not be risked.

Baraclough has one eye on next month's Euro Play-Off Semi-Final with Bosnia and Herzegovina in Zenica.

"Daniel has been in an ice bath all day so hopefully he'll be okay," conceded Baraclough. "There are concerns over Jordan Jones, who wasn't on the bench in Romania. He tweaked a thigh and we didn't want to risk him.

"Matty Kennedy will be assessed but we're not sure he'll make it as he has a back spasm. I don't think we can take a risk.

"We a want as good a squad as we can for Monday but they've got to go back to their clubs, do their pre-season then there is the game in October and we don't want to risk anyone for that."

Belfast Telegraph