Football: Graham's first buy for Spurs

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IPSWICH TOWN have defended their decision to accept Tottenham's pounds 1.75m bid for their defender Mauricio Taricco.

The 25-year-old Argentinian is expected later this week to become George Graham's first signing since taking over at White Hart Lane, but Ipswich's chairman, David Sheepshanks, insisted the move would provide protection for the Suffolk club's future.

"This transfer will enable the club to retain all of our other top young stars in our drive for promotion as well as provide funds for a replacement," Sheepshanks said. "This should therefore close the door on further speculation and enable us all to concentrate solely on the job in hand. Positioned second as we are, between now and May, we aim to win the maximum number of games possible to finish the season in first or second place."

Sheepshanks denied the impending transfer meant that Ipswich were becoming club that intended merely to stay afloat by selling players. "There is no question of a lack of ambition - on the contrary, the directors will continue to operate the club to provide the maximum sensible levels for team improvement," he said.

Taricco, a former Argentinian Under-23 international and a favourite with the Portman Road crowd, was linked with Tottenham during Christian Gross' reign. He has missed only one First Division game in each of the last two seasons.