Van Nistelrooy deal at early stage say Tottenham

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp admits his interest in Ruud van Nistelrooy has only got as far as a chance conversation between the club's chief scout and the player's agent.

Redknapp yesterday said he would be interested in signing Van Nistelrooy but only if he could offload unsettled Roman Pavlyuchenko.

But the Spurs boss has now gone on to explain his interest in the Real Madrid striker has not been followed up to any real extent.

"I don't even think we've gone that far," admitted Redknapp.

"It was just his name cropped up and Ian Broomfield, the chief scout, spoke with his agent and that's as far as it's gone really.

"I've got four strikers here at the moment so I certainly don't want five, it would be a bigger problem, I don't need that problem."

Pavlyuchenko wants a return to Russia after his unhappy spell at Spurs but although Zenit St Petersburg have made their interest in him known, no deal is likely at this stage.

"I think Zenit have been in and made contact with the chairman, I don't know where it's at with that one. I think there's been one or two English clubs interested as well.

"I'm not sure if he will be here at the end of January. It won't bother me, if he's here, great. I'm pleased to have him here.

"He can play, he's just been unlucky. I've got Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane. I'm sure in the next three or four games he'll get to play and start a game probably."

Redknapp is happy to face Liverpool tonight with Crouch and Keane in his side instead of them lining up for the Merseysiders.

Keane returned to Spurs after a short spell with the Reds but Redknapp is reluctant to criticise Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez.

"I didn't see Robbie play there," said Redknapp. "It's a game of opinions and I wouldn't question Rafa's decision.

"He obviously wasn't crazy about him, but we've all done that with players. You have players who other people think are great and you don't think they're so great and you let them go.

"Everybody thinks why did you let them go but, at the end of the day, the only person's opinion is the manager - we stand or fall in what we believe in.

"He obviously saw he wasn't in Rafa's plans, obviously he didn't fancy him that much."

Redknapp may be forced into the transfer market for a centre-half with Jonathan Woodgate in America for treatment on his long-standing groin problem and Ledley King still struggling with his knee.

"Well, if I've only got two, and Ledley's long term, it's going to be a problem, we'll have to look at it for sure," said Redknapp.

"Woodgate is in America for a month having treatment on his groin which is not good.

"Ledley's injury is long-term, there's nothing you can do with that, that's been going on for years with Ledley."