Tottenham to test fitness of Hargreaves while Crouch opts to stay

 

Tottenham Hotspur are prepared to test Owen Hargreaves' claim that he can play 40 games a season again by giving the former England midfielder a medical test this week as they investigate the possibility of taking on the injury-racked midfielder.

Technically, Hargreaves, 30, as a free agent, can sign at any time but such is the interest in the player that manager Harry Redknapp is prepared to have the former Manchester United man at the Spurs' training ground this week to allow his medical department to check on the player's fitness. Hargreaves gave an interview at the weekend in which he made the claim that he could play 40 games a season and would "blow people away".

That is some claim for a player who has suffered serious knee problems that he believes began at Bayern Munich before he joined United in 2007. The problems became worse over his first season and since he came off against Chelsea on 21 September 2008 he played just twice more for United.

Redknapp will doubtless take advice from Hargreaves' former manager Sir Alex Ferguson before he commits himself. West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa have also expressed an interest, with Albion going as far as putting a contract proposal to the player.

The Spurs striker Peter Crouch has turned down preliminary offers from Stoke City and Sunderland, both of whom had come to an agreement with Tottenham over a fee for the player, believed to be between £8m and £10m. The striker has two years left on his Spurs contract and, despite the arrival of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan from Manchester City, believes that he will get games.

It is anticipated that both clubs will try at least once more before tomorrow's deadline to try to persuade Crouch to change his mind. He was left out for Spurs' first game of the season, away at Manchester United, but played the whole 90 minutes in the 5-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.

Edin Dzeko has thanked City manager Roberto Mancini for keeping faith with him after the striker scored four times at White Hart Lane. The Bosnia and Herzegovina striker has started the season in red-hot form, scoring seven goals in four matches. In doing so, he has topped the Premier League scoring chart and has already equalled his goalscoring tally from last season.

The 25-year-old arrived in England in January from Wolfsburg with a reputation for being one of the continent's most clinical goalscorers but was quickly written off as an expensive flop after struggling to make an impact. The £27m striker has swiftly proved his worth this year, though, and is keen to keep repaying Mancini for the remainder of the season.

"I am happy that he kept faith with me because I think that's the most important thing in football – that the coach and the players around you believe in you," Dzeko said.

"The beginning was hard for me, but I wanted to have a full pre-season with the team. Now I have had that and I know the league better. I feel much stronger than last season. Thinking about the Golden Boot is too far ahead. I don't think about that. It's not the priority for me."

City were criticised last season for not playing attacking football but they have now racked up 12 goals in three matches. Another complaint aimed at Mancini's men was his squad were only at the Etihad Stadium to boost their bank balances, but Dzeko disagrees.

"Everyone when they speak about Manchester City only talks about how we spend money," Dzeko said. "Of course we spend, but other teams spend as well. I think we showed what we can do. When you play football like that, it is amazing and everyone wants to play football like that."

Dzeko's performances, and the arrival of Sergio Aguero, have meant that City have barely been affected by Carlos Tevez's pleas to leave the club. But with Tevez and Mario Balotelli among City's forward line, Dzeko is wary about resting on his laurels.

"I think nobody is guaranteed a start," Dzeko added. "That's why we are very strong. We have a lot more than 11 good players. We have 22 or even more. Scoring seven goals is something amazing for me, though. Every striker is there to score goals."

Just four days after completing his move from Arsenal, debutant Samir Nasri supplied the assists for two of Dzeko's goals. Dzeko was pleased to see Nasri get off to a flying start. "I think he showed yesterday that he will be fantastic for us," he said. "Those first two assists for me were amazing."

Mancini, meanwhile, is looking to offload some of his fringe players before tomorrow's transfer deadline. Roque Santa Cruz has joined Real Betis on loan. Craig Bellamy is also set to leave, with Liverpool and Spurs interested.

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