MIDDLESBROUGH'S hopes of attracting Kevin Phillips to Teesside received a boost last night when Tottenham dropped out of the race to sign the Sunderland hot-shot.

Boro are one of a number of clubs monitoring Phillips' situation on Wearside and manager Steve McClaren wants to have the player in his squad for the start of next season - provided he is available at the right price.

Aston Villa, Blackburn, Charlton, Rangers and Celtic are all chasing the Black Cats' post-war record scorer. But Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle has switched his sights to West Ham forward Freddie Kanoute, with the Frenchman likely to complete a £4m move to White Hart Lane, according to the Frenchman's agent Willie Mackay.

"There has been interest from other Premiership clubs, but Freddie believes Tottenham are best suited to him and he thinks he could strike up a good partnership with Robbie Keane," said Mackay.

"Freddie obviously wants to play in the Premiership and Glenn Hoddle has told the Spurs chairman (Daniel Levy) that Freddie is the player he wants. At the moment it's a question of price and it's down to the two clubs to agree on one, but I think it will be in the region of £4m."

There have still be no firm bids from Boro or any other club for the services of the Sunderland marksman, although there is said to have been a number of inquiries.

But this week McClaren warned that he is prepared to wait to get any of his targets.

Meanwhile, a move to Italy still looks on the cards for Carlos Marinelli with Brescia the most likely destination.

Marinelli had been expected to make his loan move to Torino permanent, but the cash-strapped Turin club are not able to pay the £3m asking price.

Torino have tried to persuade Boro to part with the 21-year-old on a season-long loan deal, but the Teessiders turned down the offer.

Promoted Sampdoria have also tried to take the player to Serie A permanently, but they have also had a bid turned down.

That has paved the way for Brescia, and Marinelli would jump at the chance to move should the two clubs do a deal.

The Argentinian was hailed as the new Diego Maradona when he arrived on Teesside in 1999 for £1.5m, but he has failed to hit the heights expected of him.

Marinelli is no longer in manager Steve McClaren's plans, so a move to Italy, where he enjoyed a relatively successful loan spell with Torino last season, would appear to be the best option for the attacking midfielder.

* The closing date for Boro fans to take advantage of savings on a season ticket is June 7.

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