Walker's transfer request granted by Tottenham

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Tottenham Hotspur yesterday demonstrated their willingness to begin clearing out the old guard in pursuit of success by agreeing to a transfer request from their goalkeeper Ian Walker, one of the longest-serving players at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur yesterday demonstrated their willingness to begin clearing out the old guard in pursuit of success by agreeing to a transfer request from their goalkeeper Ian Walker, one of the longest-serving players at White Hart Lane.

The 29-year-old, who has three England caps, has lost his place in the first team to Neil Sullivan, who joined from Wimbledon on a Bosman transfer during the summer. Nevertheless, it will be seen as a strange move by the club to allow a goalkeeper of Walker's experience and calibre to move on so quickly.

The Tottenham director of football, David Pleat, said: "We have reluctantly agreed to a transfer request from Ian Walker. We understand his frustration at his lack of first-team opportunities at the moment.

"Ian's form last year was excellent and by bringing in Neil Sullivan it increased the competition at the club. We now have two top-class goalkeepers and we are perhaps victims of that situation. Ian met me this morning and the players have been informed that we have reluctantly agreed to his request. In the meantime he will continue to give total commitment to the club. We will be actively looking to find a satisfactory replacement."

Mark Bosnich, who has fallen behind Fabien Barthez as Manchester United's first-choice goalkeeper and appears to have no future at Old Trafford, has rejected a loan move to Middlesbrough. It is understood that the Boro manager, Bryan Robson, tried to take the Australian to the Riverside Stadium after Mark Schwarzer broke his thumb in a training-ground accident on Thursday.

Bosnich also rejected a loan move to Celtic earlier in the season, preferring to fight for his place at United. "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees. That's why I'll never throw the towel in at this club," he said at the time.

Norwich City have beaten their First Division rivals Wolves to the signing of the veteran defender Steve Walsh from Leicester City. Walsh, who captained Leicester to their 1997 League Cup triumph, spent 14 years at Filbert Street after being signed by Bryan Hamilton - now manager at Carrow Road - in 1986. The 35-year-old has been unable to even command a place on the substitutes' bench this season with Matt Elliott, Gerry Taggart, Gary Rowett and Phil Gilchrist ahead of him in the pecking order.

The Leicester manager, Peter Taylor, said: "Steve Walsh has been terrific. He came back lighter this summer and was very unlucky not to start the season. In the end I went for Taggart before him and the reason Phil Gilchrist has been on the bench is because he can play in a number of positions. Walshy has been unlucky."

The Sunderland defender Darren Williams has signed a three-year extension to his contract that keeps him at the Stadium of Light until 2005. The deal comes just months after Williams handed in a transfer request after becoming frustrated by lack of first-team opportunities.

The Germany coach, Rudi Völler, has said that the Milan striker Oliver Bierhoff will definitely be involved in next month's World Cup qualifier against England. Bierhoff missed his country's opening 2-0 qualifying win against Greece through injury and was expected to find it difficult to force his way back into the side, with the Bayern Munich trio of Alexander Zickler, Mehmet Scholl and Carsten Jancker forging a partnership.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 side have been awarded a 3-0 victory by default after Malta fielded an ineligible player, Mark Bonnici, in the European Under-21 Championship qualifier on 1 September, which ended 1-1. Bonnici had two games of a three-match suspension still to serve.

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