Routledge 'stays at Palace'

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The Independent Online

The Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie believes he has won his battle to keep Wayne Routledge at Selhurst Park until the end of the season.

The Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie believes he has won his battle to keep Wayne Routledge at Selhurst Park until the end of the season.

Dowie has rejected bids of £1.5m and £2m from Tottenham for the England Under-21 international during the January transfer window. Both fell short of his £3m valuation.

Now Routledge, who recently turned down a new five-year contract, seems set to stay with the Premiership strugglers until the summer when his current deal expires. Any transfer fee then would be decided by a tribunal, because Routledge is under 23.

Dowie said: "Spurs' bids were turned down and there has been no contact after we rejected their second offer. From what I gather it's unlikely they will come in with a higher offer so it's looking like he won't move.

"I'm pleased about that because I've always said I don't want him to go, but whether Wayne is happy or not is another matter.

"The move has to be right for us. We have blooded him into the team and have played him in virtually every game. He should realise that the reason other clubs want to sign him is because we have played him so regularly and developed him."

The Birmingham manager Steve Bruce, who gave Routledge his first-team debut when in charge of Palace in 2001, has also been linked with a move for the 20-year-old, but Dowie is not expecting an offer. He said: "Other clubs have asked to be kept informed but there's nothing more concrete than that. Steve Bruce has not declared an interest in him. I was speaking to Steve recently about a number of things but he didn't indicate an interest in Wayne."

Dowie also admitted that time is running out for him to bring in fresh blood during the transfer window, which closes on 31 January.

He was thwarted in his attempt to sign Dean Ashton by Norwich and has decided not to pursue interest in the Russian international Dimitry Bulykin, now targeted by Portsmouth.

He said: "We're treading water at the moment as far as transfers are concerned. It's very difficult but we are working hard and making lots of phone calls.

"If we don't get any over the line then we will just have to crack on with what we have. But I want to make decisions with strong knowledge behind me - not educated punts.

"We had Dimitry Bulykin here and he looked a good player, but I didn't see enough to make me want to sign him. We're not in a financial position to commit that kind of money on a risky signing.

"It's very important to bring in players and I want a couple more bodies but this is the real world and there are only a few days left in the transfer window - these things take time."

Palace may now step up their interest in the Italian international Francesco Coco, who has been made available for loan by Internazionale. Dowie said: "I would countenance short-term deals. They make financial sense because a deal until the end of the season allows you to take another look when you know where you stand."

Elsewhere, down in League One, the Walsall player-manager Paul Merson will stay in his job despite offering his resignation after their 5-0 thrashing by Colchester.

Merson informed the club's owner, Jeff Bonser, of his decision to quit after the game but his resignation was not accepted. The former England international was unhappy with the abuse he received from Saddlers fans while he was taking corners at Layer Road.

But the midfielder said: "I've had a change of heart having slept on it. I don't want to be seen to be running away as I've come out of treatment twice.

"I am a manager of a football club and I have 16 or 17 players that I don't want to leave in the lurch. It's up to me to turn this club around.

"The players are behind me - they've shown that by their reaction when they heard what I was thinking about, and hopefully they can show me again [at home to Huddersfield] on Saturday afternoon."

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