Johnson race hots up as Wigan table £8.5m offer

Palace's chairman, Simon Jordan, has so far this week rejected approaches from Bolton, Everton and Wigan for the 25-year-old, who is believed to have told friends he would prefer a move to Goodison Park.

Everton, however, are reluctant to pay over £8m and their prospects of securing the England international have receded after Wigan's chairman, Dave Whelan, sanctioned a club record deal for a player who scored 17 times despite missing much of last season.

"One club is very close to matching our valuation and it could all be sorted out tomorrow," revealed Jordan last night. "Whether Andrew Johnson decides to join the club concerned is another matter."

While Jordan has got the auction he wanted the final decision rests with Johnson, who is prepared to consider his options until after the World Cup if necessary.

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