Leeds United: Johnson on verge of Norwich City switch

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BRADLEY Johnson is putting the finishing touches to his move to Premiership new-boys Norwich City.

The combative midfielder – free to talk with clubs after failing to agree a new deal with Leeds United – reportedly underwent a medical yesterday ahead of his expected move to Carrow Road.

Norwich boss Paul Lambert has already been extremely active in the transfer market so far this summer, bringing in strikers James Vaughan and Steve Morrison, while being close to completing a deal to sign £1.5m Brighton midfielder Elliott Bennett.

Lambert has also seen a £3.5m bid for United winger Robert Snodgrass turned down.

The future of Neil Kilkenny, another player out of contract who will move on after failing to agree fresh terms, will be finalised shortly after the 25-year-old finished his international commitments with Australia earlier this week.

A host of Championship clubs have expressed an interest in signing him, including Hull City, Burnley, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town and Bristol City.

United will have to fend off interest from the Middle East and Major League Soccer clubs in America if they decide to press ahead with a move for old boy Alan Smith, this week told he is free to leave Newcastle United.

West Ham, whose manager Sam Allardyce is a big fan of Smith’s – having taken him to Newcastle for £6m in 2007 and attempted to sign him twice while boss at Blackburn Rovers – are also in the hunt.

Available on a free transfer, Smith has been linked with a sensational return to Elland Road after leaving the club to go to bitter rivals Manchester United in May 2004, with Whites chairman Ken Bates leaving the door open to a possible move.

The Whites chief admits several hurdles would need to be crossed in order for any move to ever materialise, with the main thorny issue being Smith’s £65,000 wages – along with his recent poor injury record.

As reported in yesterday’s YEP, Smith, who has one year left on his lucrative Toon deal, won’t be rushed out of the door in Tyneside, according to his representatives.

Currently on holiday in the States, the former England international is currently assessing his options before deciding on his next – and potentially last – career move.

Meanwhile, United’s playing surface at Elland Road is currently undergoing a summer makeover in readiness for the 2011-12 campaign.

Eight new sprinklers have been installed within the playing area and the pitch is also being re-seeded.

The on-pitch sprinklers are a first for Elland Road and head groundsman Norman Southernwood said: “This is something a lot of clubs have nowadays.

“Our sprinkler system dates back to the 1970s and by doing this, it makes sure the pitch can be properly irrigated.

“We can also water the pitch at half-time, if necessary, which is something a lot of managers tend to want, but we couldn’t do before.”

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