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Darlow the hero for Newcastle

Newcastle
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Stoke closing in on David James, says Pulis

Stoke manager Tony Pulis expects to sign England goalkeeper David James in the next few days. A loan deal to take the 39-year-old Portsmouth goalkeeper to the Britannia stadium has been on and off for the past fortnight.

But Pulis told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We were hoping we would have done (the deal) and got that sorted out before now but it hasn't. It has gone on a little bit longer than we thought it was going to take, but sometimes these things happen. We're still interested in David. If we can do the deal we think it'll be a good deal for Stoke and we think it'll be a good deal for David."

James is keen to move to Stoke to improve his chances of being in the England squad for the World Cup and cash-struggling Portsmouth would welcome the opportunity to offload one of their biggest earners.

Stoke, however, do not want to break their wage structure and have been unwilling to buck that to sign James, especially as the goalkeeper has been suffering with injuries this season.

The midlands club were also concerned that James's contract with Portsmouth runs until the end of June which, with the Barclays Premier League season ending on May 9, raised questions about who should pick up the goalkeeper's salary when he has finished playing club football.

Pulis, however, expects a deal to be done by midweek. He said: "Hopefully. It's a chicken and egg situation. We're just hoping we can close the deal."

Pompey's chief executive Peter Storrie told Soccernet on Sunday: "The final discussions will take place today and tomorrow, but we have both come much closer about how the players wages will be paid."

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