Spurs look to raise funds to fend off relegation struggle

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur yesterday announced plans to raise £15m through a share offer to buy new players. The announcement came as the Premiership club appears certain to be dragged into the relegation battle - on Boxing Day they face Portsmouth, who are third from bottom but just two points behind Spurs.

The north London club, who confirmed David Pleat as caretaker until the end of the season, will sanction more spending after the £12m committed last summer. The owners, Enic, will underwrite the issue of 60,000 "convertible redeemable preference shares" to existing shareholders at £250 per share.

It is not without controversy. The plan led to the resignation of the non-executive director Howard Shore from the board of their plc in October. Also of concern is the fact that revenues at Spurs are down and they expect to make a loss of "not less than £5m".

But the chairman, Daniel Levy, has decided to press on and Spurs may step up their interest in the Brazilian Diego, who would cost more than £8m, the Chilean midfielder David Pizarro and, perhaps, Manchester United's Nicky Butt.

Resources are stretched for Portsmouth with Darren Anderton and Stéphane Dalmat facing fitness tests and in danger of joining a lengthy injury list.

Portsmouth have their own woes, although Harry Redknapp will be relieved to include Patrik Berger, Arjan De Zeeuw and Steve Stone after suspension, while Teddy Sheringham will be keen to impress against his former club.

David O'Leary, the Aston Villa manager, will share similar sentiments as he returns to Elland Road for the first time since he was sacked for a contest between two resurgent sides. Leeds United, however, were dealt a blow with the news that their defender Lucas Radebe will be out for nine weeks after tearing his hamstring in the draw against Manchester City.

Also at the bottom, Wolverhampton Wanderers face the daunting prospect of going to Highbury soon after being beaten 5-1 in the Carling Cup by a shadow Arsenal side. For Wolves, Denis Irwin and Nathan Blake are injury doubts, while Arsène Wenger may lose Dennis Bergkamp (calf) but can recall the suspension-free Lauren. Ashley Cole is still absent.

Arsenal's main rivals - Manchester United and Chelsea - are, respectively, at home to Everton and away to Charlton Athletic. Despite Rio Ferdinand's impending ban, Sir Alex Ferguson has told the England defender he will definitely play against a club United have beaten 14 times in their last 16 Premiership meetings, drawing the other two.

Everton's David Moyes will, however, take heart from his side's recent improvement and the success of his ploy of using Wayne Rooney from the bench. Indeed despite their poor start Moyes believes Everton can emulate last season's achievement: "That is what I will be challenging my players," he said.

Chelsea were dealt a setback with the confirmation that Damien Duff will be out for six weeks after dislocating his shoulder. It may prompt the manager, Claudio Ranieri, to make a foray into the transfer market. The Charlton manager, Alan Curbishley, yesterday recalled Paul Konchesky from his loan spell at Spurs.

Away from the top, Gérard Houllier will include Harry Kewell in the side against Bolton Wanderers following the Australian's absence through injury, and also field another long-term absentee striker, Michael Owen, in next month's FA Cup tie at Yeovil Town.

The matches may decide the Frenchman's future, although Houllier remains defiant. "I only ever see my name these days with the words 'under fire' in front of it, but I have grown used to that now," he said. "My new year's wish would be to have no more injuries and to get back to fourth spot. I know some people are not happy with that as a target, but we have to be realistic. The top three are battling in a league of their own."

Manchester City's manager, Kevin Keegan, was also bullish ahead of his side's visit to Birmingham City, who yesterday cancelled the contract of their Argentinian striker Luciano Figueroa, who has been an embarrassing £2.5m flop.

Keegan, who has had his own transfer critics, said he had no intention of walking out despite speculation building because of their alarming dip in form. "I have the rest of this season and two more years left after that and I intend to fulfil my contract," he said.

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