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Fulham have tonight confirmed that they have taken Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Oliver Norwood on a season-long loan deal.

The Northern Ireland midfielder has opted to drop down a division to secure the regular football that should sustain his international career rather than test himself in the Premier League for the first time. The 26 year-old, who featured 37 times as Albion won promotion from the Championship last season, could be integrated into Slavisa Jokanovic’s starting line-up sooner than initially envisaged with Fulham captain Tom Cairney expected to be sidelined for at least three weeks with a knee injury.

Norwood, whose versatility means he can operate in defensive and attacking midfield roles as well as the more orthodox central midfield position he has often filled for his country, was a longstanding Fulham target, with the Whites believed to have come close to signing him on a permanent basis last summer when he joined Brighton from Reading. The Manchester United trainee has a considerable Championship pedigree, having played 85 league games for the Royals to follow his 80 appearances in the same division at Huddersfield.

The midfielder, who made his international debut as a nineteen year-old back in 2010 has now earned 46 senior caps for Northern Ireland and came into his own as he started every qualifier as Michael O’Neill’s side reached the European Championships in France last summer, told Fulham’s official website he jumped at the chance of moving to Craven Cottage:

I’m just delighted to be here. Having played Fulham [during] the last two seasons, the football they have played, it suits my style, it suits the way In like to play football. Once I knew of the interest I was desperate to get it done and I am very happy to be here.

Norwood is expected to make his first appearance in a Fulham shirt during Saturday’s final pre-season friendly against Bundesliga side Wolfsburg at Craven Cottage.