Tottenham resigned to losing Campbell

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The Independent Online

George Graham has admitted for the first time that Spurs are already planning for a future without Sol Campbell, their captain and centre-half.

George Graham has admitted for the first time that Spurs are already planning for a future without Sol Campbell, their captain and centre-half.

There has long been speculation that the 26-year-old England international, who joined the club as a schoolboy, will leave on a free transfer when his contract runs out in the summer. Now it seems that he definitely will.

Yesterday, Graham admitted that Spurs, though wanting Campbell to stay, had not been able to offer him a new deal as he refused to even open negotiations. The manager is therefore looking for a replacement.

"Sol will not sit down and speak to the club, the financial people, the chairman [Alan Sugar], David [Pleat, the director of football], anybody," Graham said. "He doesn't want to sit down and talk, never mind make demands.

"We want to offer him one of the best contracts in the country, but what can you do? I don't worry about things I can't influence and I can't influence Sol so I've just got to get on with it.

"Obviously, I've made plans, we're looking for players to replace him. If you don't you are not doing your job properly but it is very sad."

Spurs have several young centre-halves - England under-21 caps Luke Young and Ledley King, plus Anthony Gardner, a £1m signing from Port Vale - but Graham's comments suggests he is not convinced any of them are ready to replace Campbell's huge influence.

If Campbell leaves it could prompt a further blow as Darren Anderton may decide to follow suit. Having signed a one-year extension to his contract last summer, he will also be available on a free if Spurs cannot tie him down again.

Such departures, though he is powerless to stop them, will increase the pressure on Graham as he struggles to win over the fans, many of whom refuse to forgive him for his links with Arsenal.

Campbell, who will be able to talk with other clubs and sign a pre-contract in less than 10 weeks, is widely expected to join Manchester United.

This adds irony to Graham's comments about the champions. He said: "If Manchester United had two to three extra players they'd be unbeatable, here or in Europe. The front six are as good as anything around, they should bust the bank."

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