Spurs keep their options open with Hiddink meeting

Tottenham Hotspur want Giovanni Trapattoni to give them a commitment about becoming their new manager by the end of the week, or they will look elsewhere.

Talks between the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, and the veteran Italian coach's advisers are so well advanced that they hope to have a definitive answer in the next few days. Trapattoni is now clearly their first choice, but Spurs want to be sure he is going to join them, either now or more likely in the summer after the Euro 2004 finals.

Levy wants more certainty about the post after the downturn in the club's fortunes since David Pleat was made caretaker manager for the season. The hope is that if the Spurs players know who the next manager will be and are thus playing for their futures, their form should improve. The club can also consult the new man about signings.

Trapattoni, 64, is keen on the post but now has to say that he will join Spurs and sign an agreement. The alternative is that Spurs will then look for another coach, either immediately or next summer. PSV Eindhoven's Guus Hiddink is a potential candidate, and Levy made a visit to the Netherlands yesterday to talk to the Dutch club's officials.

Hiddink is due to become their technical director next season, but could be tempted by the Premiership if the terms are right. Levy is understood to have checked on whether Hiddink would be interested in coming now - in case of an emergency - or whether he would prefer the option of joining next season. So while Trapattoni is top of the list just now there is a well respected option in the man who took South Korea to unexpected heights in the last World Cup finals.

The Birmingham City striker Christophe Dugarry's disappointing season took another downturn yesterday when the Frenchman was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association.

Dugarry is alleged to have elbowed the Blackburn defender Craig Short, who suffered a broken nose during the Premiership match at St Andrew's last month.

The referee, Graham Barber, did not see the incident, although he later sent off Dugarry for two bookable offences.

But the FA requested video evidence and has now charged the former World Cup-winner after studying additional footage. If he is found guilty then Dugarry could face a three-match suspension - the normal punishment for violent conduct.

An FA spokesman said: "Christophe Dugarry has been charged with violent behaviour, based on FA rule E2, in relation to an incident involving Craig Short during the Birmingham-Blackburn match at St Andrew's on 5 December. Dugarry has until 21 January to respond."

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, said the club will contest the charge. "There is no question that Christophe does catch Craig Short," he said. "But I don't think he intentionally tried to do it. I think he just tried to protect the ball. But I can't condone what happened after that. It was petulance that led to him being sent off."

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