Charlton poised to beat Portsmouth to Holland

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The Independent Football

Matt Holland is expected to reject a move Portsmouth in favour of Charlton Athletic after the Ipswich Town midfielder was cleared to speak to the Charlton manager Alan Curbishley yesterday.

Charlton have matched Portsmouth's £750,000 offer and Holland will now discuss the situation with the south London club over the weekend. Holland is likely to choose Charlton over Portsmouth as the former have a better chance of avoiding relegation from the Premiership next season.

Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, saw a similar deal for Herman Hreidarsson collapse after Charlton stepped in at the last moment.

The Italian defender Gianluca Festa has left Portsmouth to return to Cagliari, seven years after leaving Sardinia.

Birmingham are close to agreeing a £5.5m deal for the Blackburn midfielder David Dunn, the club's manager Graeme Souness has confirmed.

The France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez has dismissed speculation that he is unsettled at Manchester United. "For me everything is going perfectly well," Barthez said. "I am 200 per cent relaxed. For me, there is no debate."

Harry Kewell is looking for a £2m house in London as his move to Arsenal from Leeds United draws closer. Kewell is wanted by the Gunners in a swap for Jermaine Pennant plus £4m. Kewell has also been pursued by United and clubs abroad, but Arsenal now appear favourites to sign the Australian.

Sheffield United hope to take the Manchester City striker Darren Huckerby on a year's loan next season.

Aston Villa are to hold further talks with the striker Darius Vassell to persuade the England international to finally sign a new long-term contract. Vassell has 12 months left on his current deal.

The Football Association has confirmed that they will not make tickets available to England fans for the European Championship qualifier in Macedonia on 6 September.

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