Tottenham take lead in the chase to sign Carrick

Tottenham Hotspur have emerged as front-runners to sign the West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick. The Spurs coach, Jacques Santini, is searching for a central midfield player after seeing moves for England internationals Danny Murphy and Owen Hargreaves fall through.

Tottenham Hotspur have emerged as front-runners to sign the West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick. The Spurs coach, Jacques Santini, is searching for a central midfield player after seeing moves for England internationals Danny Murphy and Owen Hargreaves fall through.

Santini has now turned to Carrick, a former England Under-21 player, who is in the last year of his contract at Upton Park. A deal for Carrick could see the defender Dean Richards moving in the other direction on loan for the season.

Carrick has been linked with Portsmouth, Arsenal, Everton, West Brom and Crystal Palace. The West Ham coach, Alan Pardew, has reportedly told Carrick to make up his mind about a move or sign a long-term contract.

The Portsmouth chairman, Milan Mandaric, has issued an ultimatum to Carrick to tell Portsmouth if there is any hope of him signing for them following a £3.5m club record bid.

Carrick abandoned plans for a move to Fratton Park after Arsenal offered him a chance - and then withdrew it following Patrick Vieira's decision to stay at Highbury rather than join Real Madrid. He also rejected interest from West Brom, having already turned down Crystal Palace whose manager, Iain Dowie, is still willing to talk to the player about the opportunity to move to Selhurst Park.

Everton are believed to have fallen short of West Ham's valuation of Carrick but he has now been told he must choose a new club or sign a new contract at Upton Park. The player would become a free agent at the end of this season when his current deal expires.

Norwich City have agreed an undisclosed fee with Tottenham for the transfer of the Republic of Ireland international Gary Doherty. The 24-year-old centre-back, who can also play up front, is on international duty but will travel to Carrow Road today to discuss personal terms.

The Norwich manager, Nigel Worthington, told his club's official website: "I'm pleased that the two clubs have reached this agreement. With the player currently away on international duty the next step will take place Thursday.

"I'm very much looking forward to Gary arriving in Norwich and hopefully we will be able to complete the deal on Thursday, then he can have his medical."

Doherty began his career as a trainee with Luton before signing for Spurs in a £1m deal in March 2000.

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