Fulham and Sunderland lead chase for Bellamy

City striker close to exit from City but is unlikely to sign for hometown club Cardiff
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The Independent Football

Uncertainty surrounded Craig Bellamy's immediate future last night but what seems certain is that he is on his way out of Manchester City. Bellamy was set to return to the club today despite being given permission to train with Cardiff.

As with Shay Given, City are reluctant to let Bellamy join a club that is also chasing a top-four place in the Premier League, leaving Celtic, Fulham and Sunderland as the three front-runners to recruit the Welshman.

Tottenham were believed to be interested in bringing Bellamy back to London where he spent two years with West Ham, but they have now pulled out of the race. The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, said last night: "I couldn't see them loaning him to us."

Bellamy, 31, is considered surplus to requirements at Eastlands – especially now that City have spent £22m on the Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who will be unveiled at the club's training ground at lunchtime today. Bellamy has said that he is keen to one day turn out for Cardiff but with the Welsh club beset by financial problems they may struggle to afford Bellamy's wages.

Bellamy had a loan spell at Celtic five years ago and Neil Lennon, the Glasgow side's fledgling manager, has been in contact with his agent to signal his interest. "I'm not going to comment about individual players but there is nobody that we are looking at that is dead in the water," said John Reid, Celtic's chairman yesterday. "There are some that are more difficult than others for a host of reasons. It's not primarily financial."

Redknapp believes any move outside the top flight would be a "waste" of Bellamy's talents. "He's a Premier League player, isn't he?" said Redknapp. "No disrespect to Cardiff, but it would be a waste."