Sunderland and Shrewsbury’s Norburn interest may test Rovers’ resolve

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Unless you have had your head buried in the sand over the course of the last week, you will no doubt be familiar with the speculation surrounding potential interest in midfielder Ollie Norburn.

According to supposed ‘respected journalists’ on social media, and some lousy transfer rumour websites, Norburn is at the centre of interest from Sunderland, MK Dons and Shrewsbury Town.

While news from the north east, and MK, has been quiet, it does appear as though Shrewsbury’s interest is rock solid. They had at least one, perhaps two, bids turned down earlier this summer, and with new Salop boss John Askey having money to spend, Norburn appears to be number one target.

Askey did of course have Norburn at Macclesfield Town, the club the player joined Tranmere from last summer. Shrewsbury are reportedly ‘close’ to agreeing a deal for a midfielder ahead of Thursday’s 5pm transfer deadline, Norburn the chief suspect.

However, Tranmere would be loathed to lose the energetic midfielder. Despite spells of inconsistency, Norburn was a key part of Tranmere’s promotion-winning team last season and would again be an integral part of Rovers’ assault on League Two this year. He was left out of Tranmere’s squad for the opener at Stevenage on Saturday, though that was likely down to injury.

Given that Shrewsbury’s flirtation with promotion to the Championship last season was likely to be a flash in the pan, Norburn’s decision will likely rest on the strength of his relationship with Askey, an improved financial package at Shrews, or the appeal of playing a level higher – even if this could be slightly short-termism. See the arguments that Tranmere fans put forward when Andy Cook left for Walsall.

If there is indeed interest from Sunderland, you certainly would not begrudge the player that kind of move. Sure, it’s League One still, but the stature and potential of the Black Cats would be appealing. As for MK Dons, nobody really cares.

Tranmere on the other hand, well they have had bids rejected for at least two strikers this summer and Micky Mellon is still keen to add one ahead of Thursday’s deadline. With money tight, selling Norburn may allow the Rovers chief to bring in a couple of new faces.

It may be seen as a risk though – offering new deals to Norburn, and also James Norwood, would be a real statement of intent from the club.

It’s going to be an interesting 24 hours or so.

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