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Premier League's best youngsters are English

Tactics and Analysis 12 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 2, 2007

Harry warns giants off Kanu and Campbell

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp has warned European giants Chelsea and Ajax to forget about bringing Sol Campbell and Kanu back into the big time.

Striker Kanu, who has notched nine goals for Pompey in the Premiership this season after Redknapp signed him on a free transfer in the summer, has been pushing claims for a return to the Amsterdam club where he made his name 10 years ago before joining Inter Milan and later Arsenal.

And Campbell, another free transfer scoop at the start of the season after Arsenal released him, has recently been linked with helping to solve Chelsea's defensive crisis - especially with the temporary absence of skipper John Terry - after a string of impressive performances.

If Campbell, 32, joined Chelsea in the January transfer window, he would be eligible to play for them in the knockout stages of the Champions League after scoring in the final for Arsenal last season.

But Redknapp, who has helped revive the former Tottenham and England star's career on the south coast, insists: 'I have heard nothing at all. There have been no offers for Sol. And we need to keep him because he is the backbone of our team.

'This story has come out of the blue. Last week was the first I have heard of it but there is no way we can let Sol go.'

News of Kanu's unsettled state, however, has surfaced since he admitted after the 2-2 draw at Arsenal earlier this month that he would love to return to Ajax if Pompey failed to 'reward him' for his efforts.

In a Dutch magazine article he confirmed he would quit Pompey next month for such a move, but Redknapp is adamant: 'He can't go. He's under contract here.

'He signed a year's contract in August and if he had been useless instead of scoring goals for us we would still be paying his wages. He can't have it all ways.

'Ajax haven't spoken to me. I wouldn't want to keep anybody who was unhappy but I love Kanu, he has been great for us. And he hasn't spoken to me about any of this.'

Kanu looked below par in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham in his fourth consecutive game without a goal, but Redknapp added: 'For me it is more likely we will sign him for another year at the end of the season.

'Reward? He's well-rewarded, believe you me. I want to keep Campbell and Kanu as well.

'And where were all these clever managers, who now seem to want my players, in the summer? They could have had them on a couple of free transfers.'

Redknapp claims he is more concerned with bolstering his own squad and will ask Pompey's owner, Alexandre Gaydamak to finance the signing of at least one defender this month as cover for crocked Noe Pamarot and Dejan Stefanovic.

Full-back Pamarot faces weeks out after tearing a groin muscle in the 1-1 draw yesterday. Club captain Stefanovic is still months short of fitness after a knee operation in November.

But Redknapp claimed: 'I haven't a clue if I'm going to be bringing in a player or not. I keep looking, but I don't know whether I'll be able to bring anyone in. I've not got a clue about what money is available.

'Despite what might be said in the newspapers I haven't had anything to do with transfer dealing for about 15 years. Peter Storrie (chief executive) does it all here.

'I ask him to ask the owner what is possible and hopefully we can get one or two in because losing Pamarot leaves us a bit short at left-back.

'We've got only two spare defenders - Andy O'Brien and Andy Griffin on the books. Andy Griffin wants to go back to Stoke (where he has been on loan for three months) and Stoke want him, but I can't let him go.'

Redknapp also loses Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes today after failing to agree Benfica's £12million demand for the 20-year-old who has been on loan at Pompey since the start of the season.

Fernandes was on the bench against Spurs, although if he had played his third game in a row it would have entitled Benfica to claim the full fee for him. And Redknapp admits: 'It is all about the fee but £6million is too much for just half of him.

'I would go for him if the price was right but it looks like another good player gone.'

The Pompey boss, however, is happy with his strike-force which threatened to disintegrate through injuries over Christmas.

Andy Cole returned with a goal over the festive period after Achilles trouble, Benjani (hamstring) and Kanu (knee) are fit again and Svetoslav Todorov is available again after a loan-spell at Wigan - Portsmouth's FA Cup opponents next Saturday.

Redknapp said: 'Hopefully, (Lomana) LuaLua will be fit again after his thigh injury before the end of the season.'