No Preston loan return for striker Nugent

February 7, 2008

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp has ruled out loaning £6million striker David Nugent back to Preston despite bringing in Jermain Defoe from Tottenham, Milan Baros from French champions Lyon and now having Nigerians Kanu and John Utaka back from the African Nations Cup.

Ipswich has also been mentioned as a possible destination for Nugent who is currently recovering from a hernia operation, having made just four Barclays Premier League starts since joining Pompey in the summer.

Redknapp said: 'Those suggestions are absolute rubbish. There is not a chance. Do you think I paid all that money to sign him from Preston and then loan him back? That wouldn't be very clever.

'I've got just three strikers at the moment - if Kanu is fit. He got a knee injury in Africa and Utaka is really a winger. We are not exactly overloaded still for strikers.'

Nugent, yet to score a Premier League goal, has insisted he wants to stay and fight for his place at Fratton Park.

He has set a target for his comeback from injury as Pompey's visit to Preston in the fifth round of the FA Cup a week on Sunday.

But Redknapp's squad, who held Chelsea to a draw last week with Defoe's debut-day equaliser, is looking stronger again with Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop, also back from the African Nations Cup, looking a certain starter away to Bolton on Saturday.

Centre-back Sylvain Distin again looks likely to miss out with a hamstring injury but Kanu's knee problem is not as serious as originally thought and record signing Sulley Muntari is now the only player away with Ghana on international duty.

And the £7.2million fee Pompey paid Udinese for Muntari now looks set to be beaten when they complete Defoe's permanent signing tomorrow having initially signed him on loan from Spurs last Thursday while trying to sell top scorer Benjani Mwaruwari to Manchester City.

Benjani's protracted move to City has also been completed with the buying club paying £3.87million up front and the rest of the agreed £7.75million in stages, linked to his appearances for them.

Redknapp admitted: 'I'm still sorry to see Benji go but that was the only way we were going to be able to buy Defoe. Benji was great for us and I wish him all the luck in the world as a City player.'