Clock ticking on hunt for defender

TOTTENHAM face a race against time as they hunt desperately for a proven Premier League centre-back, 10 days before they kick off their season against Liverpool. An injury crisis has left Harry Redknapp with just one fit senior centre-half...

By Ben Pearce

TOTTENHAM face a race against time as they hunt desperately for a proven Premier League centre-back, 10 days before they kick off their season against Liverpool.

An injury crisis has left Harry Redknapp with just one fit senior centre-half, Vedran Corluka, and the manager has urged chairman Daniel Levy to re-invest the majority of the �14million Spurs are receiving from Sunderland for Darren Bent.

With five competitive fixtures looming before the end of August, Redknapp is frantically trying to recruit a reliable partner for Corluka, ideally in time for Spurs' final pre-season friendly against Olympiakos this Sunday.


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Newcastle's Sebastien Bassong still heads the list and, although Redknapp denies that a �10m bid for the Frenchman was lodged at the weekend, he admitted: "He is a player that I was interested in. I like Bassong, he is a young player with a good future and a good central defender."

Bassong, who made 37 top-flight appearances last season as the Magpies were relegated to the Championship, was mysteriously absent from the Newcastle team that faced Dundee United in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

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Newcastle's interim manager Chris Hughton said: "It was never my intention to play Bassong. He is suspended for the first game of the season, so we were always going to leave him out anyway."

However, Newcastle have had to deny reports that the defender was fined two weeks' wages for refusing to travel to the game in an attempt to force a move to Tottenham.

Levy and Redknapp are now deciding whether to up their offer for the 23-year-old or to move on to other targets.

Blackburn Rovers' Chris Samba also fits Redknapp's photofit, and he was impressed with the defender's muscular performance in Rovers' 2-1 victory over Spurs at Ewood Park last season.

The Lilywhites boss noted that the 25-year-old - a former striker - swung the game in the home side's favour when he was moved up front for the second half.

And, having played key roles in both Blackburn goals late in the game, Redknapp is aware that the Congo international's physicality offers tactical options and a daunting presence off the bench.

The Spurs boss was hoping to avoid splashing out on another centre-back this summer, but his hand has been forced by Jonathan Woodgate's situation.

"I think he may have to have another hernia operation," said Redknapp. "He had one at the end of last season but obviously it has not worked so he may have to go back in again. I don't see [Michael Dawson] or Woody being fit for the start of the season."

Meanwhile, Ledley King's chronic knee injury has prevented him from being involved in pre-season and, while he could play against Liverpool next weekend, that would immediately rule him out of the trip to Hull City three days later.

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