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Dean Smith hopes Todd Cantwell stays in Norwich City in the middle of Newcastle United, but admits he has been in a “frustrating” situation and needs to build confidence.
Cantwell is out of contract at Carrow Road at the end of the season. Although Norwich have the option to extend his contract by a further season. However, interest is already growing for the offensive midfielder.
A recent report from Telegraph named Cantwell as a target for Newcastle. They also claimed that Norwich would not oppose sanctioning a deal in January. Selling him now may be their best chance to make a good amount of money on him, despite potentially strengthening a relegation rival.
Sky Sports followed it up with their own information that Cantwell is interesting for Newcastle and another Premier League club. They believe Norwich are looking for a fee in the range of between £ 15m and £ 20m.
The only thing Smith can concentrate on is getting the best out of Cantwell while still a Norwich player. It has so far been a relatively tough season for the 23-year-old. He has yet to score or assist from eight Premier League matches, including just five starts.
In fact, when asked about Cantwell at a news conference on Friday, Smith turned his focus away from his transfer future.
“I know there’s an awful lot of speculation about Todd at the moment and there’s always about good players,” Smith said.
“He has been in a situation where he had not trained with the first team for a while when we arrived. So we had to build his fitness and he’s in a good place now.
“He’s in doubt about playing on Sunday [in the FA Cup at Charlton], but I’m not dealing with speculation, Stuart [Webber] do so I know it is not the honest answer.
“Hopefully he will still be here and play well, because that’s what we want from him. We know what we can do at this level and are working hard to get him back to it.”
Cantwell ‘definitely a talented footballer’
Smith reiterated the extent of the fitness issues Cantwell was dealing with earlier in the season. Now, however, he hopes to get him back on track, no matter what the future brings.
“It’s been frustrating, but I also think it’s been frustrating for him,” the Norwich boss added.
“He was not up to running in the first few games we played [since I took over], but he’s definitely on his way there.
“He works hard in training. We have not had any problems with him in terms of posture and application.
“It’s also about building his confidence, which had taken a bit of a hit. But there is definitely a talented footballer there.”
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Smith supports under-fire Gilmour
Elsewhere at his press conference, Smith gave his backing to midfielder Billy Gilmour.
The Chelsea man was greeted by some frustrations from supporters during their 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace in December, which was their latest match.
Smith, however, sent a reminder of the star’s age when he explained why patience is required.
“I was disappointed with what I heard, not during the game itself, but I had family members in the game [away] stand, ”Smith said.
“It was a minority, Billy knows. Everyone in the locker room and the training ground knows the value of Billy.
“Unfortunately, a great expectation comes along with Billy and people need to remember that he is 20.
“Such things, it will hurt and there is no one I see tried more than Billy in wanting to get the ball and would do well [against Palace].
“He’s very well supported here, in the group with the players, the staff, and he just wants to keep working hard to get better.”