Manager Gareth Southgate has moved to arrest Middlesbrough's alarming slide towards the foot of the Premier League table by closing in on the signing of midfielder Ben Watson from Crystal Palace, who have accepted a £2m bid for the player.
Watson's future has been in doubt since he rejected a contract offer from Palace last summer and manager Neil Warnock has confirmed that a fee has been agreed by the Palace chairman, Simon Jordan, with Boro.
"The chairman has spoken to [Middlesbrough chairman] Steve Gibson – and they have agreed a £2m fee," Warnock said. "It is not a foregone conclusion yet. Ben still has to agree personal terms."
The deal could include various add-ons for the 23-year-old.
Watson made his debut for Palace towards the end of the 2002–03 season aged 17 and has slowly become a fixture in the side. He made over 150 appearances for the Eagles before his 23rd birthday and has also represented England Under-21s twice.
Adams expects more new faces
Portsmouth manager Tony Adams is confident of making more signings after landing Jermaine Pennant on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season. "We could have a few new recruits before the weekend," Adams said. "There are areas of concern – obvious from the amount of centre-backs we are playing in midfield at the moment. The practicality, the finance and the availability I'm not so sure about. I'm not panicking, though. I've looked at over 100 players since December."
Sbragia aims to sign defender
Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia hopes to sign an experienced defender by the time Fulham head for Wearside next Tuesday evening for a Premier League match as the club lost Nyron Nosworthy for up to six weeks with a hamstring tear at the weekend. Sbragia said: "A defender has always been the number one priority, but we might have to do it a bit quicker now. I have spent a lot of time working on possible replacements in the last couple of days. Hopefully we will get one before the Fulham game."
Faubert looks to Lyons for French return
West Ham midfielder Julien Faubert is keen to move to Lyons because he feels it would enhance his prospects of a return to the France squad. The 25-year-old said that the Hammers are in talks with the French champions about a possible deal. "Lyons would really be great," Faubert said. "I would rediscover Ligue 1 and France but also the Champions League and the eyes of the national-team coach."
No Premier League bids for Materazzi
Internazionale deny receiving an offer from any Premier League side for their Italian World Cup-winning defender Marco Materazzi. Reports claimed the centre-back was a target of Spurs, Portsmouth and Manchester City in the transfer market. However, Inter's sporting director, Marco Branca, said: "We have not received any offers from any English teams for Marco Materazzi."
Rumour mill: Tales from the web
Chelsea and Sunderland lead the chase for the Fiorentina defender Manuel da Costa. The 22-year-old played under Blues manager Luiz Felipe Scolari for Portugal and may favour a move to Stamford Bridge. Goal.com
The Ireland international forward Robbie Keane will be welcomed back at Tottenham this summer as the striker grows increasingly frustrated with his bit-part role at Anfield. football-rumours.co.uk
Carlos Tevez, Fabian Delph, Micah Richards and Ben Foster will all arrive at Arsenal in the summer, with disaffected trio Emmanuel Eboué, Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor on their way out of the Emirates. football-rumours.co.uk