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CP: More Canucks in the EPL Next Season

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Canadian Jim Brennan looks forward to playing in English Premier League

(CP) - There could be more Maple Leaf in the English Premier League next season.

Canadian international midfielder Jim Brennan and Norwich City, which leads the First Division with three games remaining, have already booked their place to the top flight of English soccer. Canadian defender Jason deVos hopes to join him. Wigan currently are sixth in the First Division, looking for a place in the playoffs to decide which club will accompany Norwich and West Bromwich Albion to the Premier League next season.

Brennan, and possibly deVos, could join fellow Canadians Tomasz Radzinski and Lars Hirschfeld in the 20-team Premier League.

Needless to say, Brennan is ecstatic at the prospect of promotion.

"Of course, the Premier (League) at the moment is the best in the world and that's where everybody wants to play," he told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday from England. "Now we're there."

But the two Canadians currently in the Premiership have some decisions to make on their future.

Radzinski, who cost Everton 4.5 million pounds ($10.9 million Cdn) in July 2001, is currently mulling over a new contract offer from the Liverpool-based team, with other clubs also reportedly interested.

It sounds like the speedy striker wants to stay on Merseyside.

"It is nice to know the club want to keep me. I love the club and I like the city," he was quoted recently on Everton's website.

Still the Guardian says Glasgow Celtic, Birmingham City, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers are watching the 30-year-old Canadian who is second in scoring for Everton with eight goals this season.

Hirschfeld, meanwhile, is a backup at Tottenham and the Edmonton goalkeeper may be on the move in search of playing time.

Brennan has made the most of a pre-season free transfer from Nottingham Forest after his contract expired. But it hasn't been easy.

The 26-year-old from Toronto missed the first 21 games of the season - first because of a pulled thigh muscle and then a hip flexor two days into his return.

He did not make his regular season debut until Nov. 29, almost four months late.

Once healthy, he worked his way into the squad and has seen action in 17 of the last 24 games including a string of seven straight starts.

"Which isn't too bad considering the start that I had," he said. "When you're out so long you're playing catchup, because the lads were flying and you're trying to get into the side. It's tough. But we're up in the Premier (League) now and it's a fresh start next year."

The Canaries (26-7-10) have won their last six games and Brennan says Norwich is buzzing now that the team is headed back to the top level after nine years in a lower division.

"The city's gone absolutely mental," he said. "From the small businesses to the big businesses, everybody's just loving it because it means so much (money) is going to be coming into the city."

The club is also a big winner. With TV and other revenue, it's expected promotion means another 20 million pounds ($48 million Cdn) next season.

Not to mention playing the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Brennan made his mark against Premier League opposition this season, scoring in a 3-1 FA Cup third-round loss to Everton on Jan. 3.

It was his first full start for Norwich after six appearances as a sub.

He says he was sorry to leave Nottingham Forest but didn't have much choice since the First Division club was tightening its belt. It has paid for that since and currently stands 15th after finishing sixth last season.

"They really couldn't offer anybody contracts and that's why I think six, seven players left," Brennan said. "And when you have that many players leave that are starters, it's always going to be tough."

Brennan, who has two more years on his deal at Norwich, previously played at Bristol City and Huddersfield Town (on loan).

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