Holt earns contract extension as Norwich prepare for Premiership

The Norwich City manager, Nigel Worthington, has moved quickly to prepare his title-winning side for the challenge of Premiership football next season by awarding the Scotland midfielder Gary Holt a two-year contract extension.

The Canaries' celebrations at winning the First Division championship had barely time to die down before the City manager announced that the 31-year-old ball-winner would be staying at the club until June 2006.

Norwich were finally confirmed as champions last night when second-placed West Bromwich Albion were beaten 4-1 by Stoke, rendering the Canaries' 1-0 defeat at Sunderland immaterial and sparking huge celebrations among the travelling contingent at the Stadium of Light.

Holt has been an ever-present in the Canaries' championship-winning side this season and Worthington praised his influence at the club since he joined from Kilmarnock for £100,000 in March 2001.

Worthington said: "I'm delighted that Gary Holt has signed a two-year extension to his contract. He has helped the club to move forward in his time here and I hope he will continue to do so."

Holt, who, with the central defender Malkay Mackay, has again been included in the Scotland squad for friendlies against Estonia and Trinidad and Tobago at the end of May, added: "I'm delighted to have had my contract extended. It rounds off a great season for me personally and as part of a team that has achieved so much.

"I had no doubts in my mind that I wanted to remain at Norwich City and it was great to hear the manager wanted to keep me here as well.

"It is nice to get everything done and dusted with regards to my contract and I can now look forward to the fantastic challenge of Premiership football."

But Worthington has again demonstrated his ruthless determination to create a side capable of competing in the top flight by showing another player the door at Carrow Road. The midfielder Clint Easton has had his contract terminated by mutual consent. Last week it was announced that the veteran striker Iwan Roberts and second-choice goalkeeper Paul Crichton would be leaving the club.

Easton has featured only 11 times in City's promotion campaign and has struggled to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up since arriving from Watford for £100,000 in the summer of 2001.

The former England Under-20 player said: "The move gives me the opportunity to re-establish myself next season."

Worthington added: "Clint's first-team appearances have been restricted this season and we felt it would be in both parties' best interests to go our separate ways, to give Clint the opportunity of first-team football."

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