Norwich City Republic of Ireland Under-21s goalkeeper Sam Blair set to join Bury Town ahead of Blues' pre-season test against Paul Cook's new-look Ipswich Town
Bury Town are set to have a Republic of Ireland Under-21s squad member between the posts when Paul Cook brings his Ipswich Town first team to the Denny Bros Ram Meadow Stadium for Tuesday’s sell-out friendly (7.30pm), we can exclusively reveal.
Following on from Daniel Barden and Joe Rose, Sam Blair is the latest Norwich City goalkeeper set to spend a season gaining valuable senior experience with the Blues.
The Aylsham-raised 18-year-old has been with the Canaries since under-11s, signing a two-and-a-half year first professional contract in January.
Subject to the paperwork going through in the coming days, Bury boss Ben Chenery is set to give the player called into the Irish Under-21s set-up over the past six months his first outing at Ram Meadow on Tuesday.
"The goalkeeper situation is to all intents and purposes arranged," he said. "We are just waiting on paperwork to be organised but we have a great relationship with Norwich City Football Club, obviously having Daniel Barden and then Joe Rose.
"And that partnership will be continuing this year with a really bright, young goalkeeper coming to us who we look forward to working with again.
"Hopefully that will be tied up so he can play on Tuesday, that is our plan."
He added of Blair: “He was captain of the under-18 team last year and he has been involved in the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad already.
“They are very positive about him, but they are happy about all their goalkeepers and they seem to have a handle on producing really good ones.
“He will be of a similar ilk to the other two and we look forward to working with him.
“Again, we thank Norwich City hugely for the partnership and putting the trust in us with their young goalkeepers.”
After playing their first pre-season friendly on Tuesday this week, a 2-1 victory at lower-league Thetford Town which saw Cemal Ramadan score both the visitors’ goals, Bury were due to host Kieron Dyer’s Ipswich Town Under-23s on Saturday.
But Covid-19 precautions, originally said by Bury to have stemmed from a positive case in the Ipswich U23s squad, have led to the game being cancelled.
Chenery said: “There will be no game Saturday. It is disappointing, yes, but totally understandable in regards to the cancellation and we look forward to the Tuesday game.
“It will allow us to train and get some more understanding into the players in terms of how we are going to approach this season.”
He reported everyone, including Ryan Stafford, the full-back playing his first minutes since groin surgery, had come through Tuesday’s game unscathed.
And they are now looking forward to testing themselves against what is due to be a frontrunner for promotion from League One.
“I thank Ipswich Town for their support in bringing a team down and thanks to Paul Cook also, we are really appreciative,” said Chenery.
“It will be a great pre-season fixture for us. The pitch is near on perfect. There will be 650 (Covid-limited capacity) people in the ground so it will be a great occasion.
“It will be nice for us to play against Ipswich Town and it is great for Ipswich to show their support to local football.
“It is a fixture that used to happen quite regularly and it is nice for it to be reignited.”
Forward Cruise Nyadzayo will not be part of the Blues’ squad this season though, Chenery has confirmed.
“By mutual consent Cruise needs to go and play more football which will be a positive for him,” he said.
“He is a really good young man and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.
“Cruise certainly has undoubted potential and I think it will benefit him to go and play regular senior football.
“I hope he goes on and does really well at whatever football club he plays for.”