Redknapp rules out a late move for James

Spurs manager admits he has other priorities but says 39-year-old is England's No 1
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The Independent Football

The Tottenham Hotspur manager, Harry Redknapp, admits he cannot follow up his interest in David James while he has two goalkeepers at White Hart Lane.

Redknapp started the Premier League campaign with Heurelho Gomes in goal against Liverpool and Carlo Cudicini as back-up, meaning his priorities lie elsewhere with less than two weeks of the transfer window remaining.

James has spoken about the uncertainty at Portsmouth while a possible takeover of the club drags on, with a host of high-profile players departing. Redknapp, after leaving Pompey last season, feels they have to keep senior players such as James to stay up.

"If I didn't have a goalkeeper he would be top of my list," said Redknapp. "If they can hang on to David James, Sylvain Distin and Younès Kaboul then they are still strong.

"'Jamo, for me, is still England's best goalkeeper, he's fantastic. Hopefully, they can keep hold of him because he'll play a major part for them."

Redknapp is looking to build on Sunday's win over Liverpool when his side travel to Hull tonight. They will be without the centre-backs Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson, while midfielder Jermaine Jenas has a calf problem.

Jenas, with winger David Bentley, has been linked with moves to Aston Villa, but Redknapp insists the pair have futures at Spurs unless a club comes in with an offer they cannot refuse. "Jermaine is injured but he's a good lad and a great player," Redknapp said. "Both him and David Bentley are part of my plans. It's no good saying people will never go. If people offer crazy money, that changes. Manchester United and Liverpool got offers they couldn't refuse for Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso. But we're not looking to sell."

After Sunday's win Redknapp is keenly aware how important tonight's match is in terms of momentum. "It's been a good start," he said. "We've had a great run and we're looking upwards. It's a fickle game and opinions change – one week you get beat and you're rubbish. It was a nice game on Sunday but we move on now.

"I remember beating Manchester United with Portsmouth on a Saturday, then at Watford two days later, they were bottom of the league, and we were beaten by four. So we have to make sure we build on what we did on Sunday. It will be difficult but we've got a good chance.

"If you can get a good start it sets you up for the season. Champions League would be great – but you don't want to put yourself under pressure."

Redknapp was in a jovial mood ahead of the Hull trip and even fielded questions about Spurs winning the title. "We'll do our best," he said. "We'll try and finish as high as possible."

The Hull captain, Ian Ashbee, will miss the majority of the season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a knee injury. The 32-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract, may now have only a limited playing future with the Premier League club.

Ashbee suffered the injury playing Aston Villa in May and missed the final three games of last season. There had been reports the player was set to retire, but he will travel to the US for surgery next week in the hope of curing the problem. Hull's manager, Phil Brown, said: "He has had a setback with regards to his long-term problem, he had an operation on his knee three or four years ago. He is flying across to Colorado on Monday to undergo that surgery. Hopefully, the scenario will be rehabilitation and back within eight or nine months.

"It is a big blow for Ian and a big blow for us, as he is the club captain. We have had long discussions about it. He is in the last year of his contract and has tried desperately to try to get another one. In his inimitable fashion he is trying to prove people wrong."

Ashbee made 35 appearances for the Tigers last season after starring in their successful promotion campaign of 2007-08. In the past he has overcome a serious bone condition in his leg and major surgery to enjoy a successful professional career.