David James plans to sign for Stoke City on Thursday, but only on a loan deal until the end of the season when he will review his future again - meaning a move to Tottenham remains a possibility.
Sources close to James told ESPN Soccernet on Thursday morning: "It looks like the loan to Stoke will be tied up today. It's just a question of the two clubs sorting it out, but it will only be a loan, simply a six-month loan, until the end of the season, at which point David will be free to explore all his options."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis confirmed: "We'll have to see if the two clubs can come to a deal and we're hoping it will be tied up for the weekend, but it will have to be right for us. If we can get him we'll be absolutely delighted because if there's a weakness (in the squad) it's been between the sticks in respect of having competition and back-up.
"He'll want to be on that plane to South Africa, and that attracts me to him more than anything else. He is desperate to play for England in the World Cup. So if we can bring him in and give him the opportunity to prove he is the best goalkeeper in England, and he proves that, then we'll be delighted.''
Thomas Sorensen is currently Stoke's number one 'keeper but the Dane has been linked with a number of clubs and Pulis admits there is a chance he could leave the club in January.
"We've heard the rumours that there are clubs in Europe who fancy Thomas, and it makes it more important that we cover ourselves,'' said Pulis. "If Bayern Munich, Manchester United or Chelsea come in for Thomas, he would want to better himself like everybody else does, just like (Cristiano) Ronaldo wanted to go to Real Madrid. But it (goalkeepers) is a fragile area. Hopefully we're covering it by bringing in David.''
James is a free agent at the end of his contract in the summer, but Portsmouth can significantly reduce their wage bill by allowing the England 'keeper to leave in the January transfer window. As ESPN Soccernet reported recently, James can go because he is one of the highest wage earners on £2 million a year and Pompey have been late with the players' wages of £1.8 million a month for the past three months.
James has played just two games for Portsmouth since the start of November and while he has struggled with fitness problems in recent months, a contractual issue is also behind his absence from the team.
Portsmouth have confirmed that if James makes 20 Premier League appearances this season then it will trigger a clause in his contract, forcing Portsmouth to extend a deal which currently expires in the summer.
With Portsmouth embroiled in financial problems, it is reported that they cannot countenance handing a lucrative new contract to James and are now exploring ways to remove him from the wage bill.