Tottenham ready to admit defeat as rivals launch bids for Bellamy

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The Independent Online

There were conflicting reports last night of just where Craig Bellamy will be today. Manchester City had given the striker permission to train with Cardiff, but it later emerged that he was instead expected to return to the Northwest.

The Wales striker, 31, worked with City's reserves on Friday last week as the first-team squad had travelled to London for their match at Tottenham.

As well as Cardiff, Fulham, Sunderland and Celtic are also interested in Bellamy but Tottenham have all but accepted that the forward, who was a Spurs target when he left West Ham for Eastlands in January 2009, will not be allowed to join a Champions League rival.

Cardiff, who were given yesterday off by manager Dave Jones, face serious financial problems but as he aired his frustrations under Mancini last week, Bellamy reiterated that it is one of his ambitions to turn out for the club. He has previously worked with the Fulham manager Mark Hughes, with Wales and City, and also enjoyed a previous loan stint at Celtic.

John Reid, the Celtic chairman, admits he is still unsure of Bellamy's intentions, despite manager Neil Lennon contacting the player's agent.

"I'm not going to comment about individual players but there is nobody that we are looking at that is dead in the water," Reid said. "There are some that are more difficult than others for a host of reasons. It's not primarily financial. In a lot of these cases it is down to where the player himself wants to play."

The policy that looks set to block Bellamy's move to Tottenham would also scupper any hopes that Arsenal have of signing Shay Given. The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper had stated that he would look for a move if he was left on the bench as back up for Joe Hart on the opening day of the season at Tottenham.

While Mancini will unveil Mario Balotelli this afternoon, he is no closer to tying up a deal for Aston Villa's James Milner, as no progress has been made on negotiating a pay-off for Stephen Ireland, who was set to be included in the deal. Ireland is holding out for a £2m loyalty payment before he will agree to leave the club and is prepared to sit tight.

Another player who had a question mark over his City future is Shaun Wright-Phillips but, despite a disappointing summer at the World Cup with England, the winger started ahead of Adam Johnson in the goalless draw at Tottenham.

Wright-Phillips, 28, now has less than two years left on his contract but is adamant he has never felt he was being forced out of the club. "Everyone knows you have to work hard to stay in this team and it was great to start the first game of the season," he said. "I never worry, I'm always up for the challenge, especially at City, and will keep my head down and work as hard as I can."

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