York City chairman John Batchelor today directed an icy blast at Wolverhampton Wanderers as the future of goalkeeper Russ Howarth was left in limbo.

The England Under-20 international's future has been thrown into turmoil after Premiership giants Tottenham Hotspur decided against following up their interest in the 20-year-old.

Despite Spurs' interest coming to nothing, it was believed Wolves, where Howarth had been on trial until Spurs' sudden intervention, were still waiting in the wings to snap up the youngster.

However, the Evening Press can reveal after hearing of Tottenham's decision to pull out of a deal Wolves then sought to broker a loan arrangement with City to take Howarth back to Molineux temporarily.

That request has infuriated City chief Batchelor, who was already fuming with the Midlands outfit for offering just £60,000 for the highly-rated shot-stopper when they tried to sign him permanently.

Batchelor said: "For a young England international we do not believe that is an appropriate fee.

"Now they have had the cheek to ask if they can have him on a loan basis. We have refused that. He has been down there training with them for a number of weeks already and while they want him enough to have him on loan they do not want him enough to actually buy him.

"Wolves seem to think because they are in a stronger position financially than smaller clubs they can enhance their squad at our expense and at no cost.

"We are not subsidising Wolves and if they are as skint as they say they are then I cannot see them continuing in the First Division."

Clouding the issue further is the fact Howarth has burned his bridges at Bootham Crescent after refusing to play in Paul Stancliffe's testimonial match during pre-season.

Howarth was on trial with Wolves at the time and feared an injury while playing for City could scupper his move to Molineux.

Batchelor said: "Russ is now in a position where he cannot play for Wolves and he cannot play for York City.

"If he had listened to us instead of his agent then he could be at York City now playing in the first team and with an improved contract. But now we have both Marlon Beresford and Alan Fettis."

Batchelor, who admitted City would continue to pay Howarth and retain his registration so as to guarantee a fee should the player finally move, admitted the situation was now deadlocked.

"I just don't know how it will be resolved," he said.

"It is up to Russ and his advisers to get himself a club. We have invested six years in Russell and to achieve any level of compensation we have to retain his registration and continue to pay him.

"Whether we will continue doing that indefinitely is another matter."

City boss Terry Dolan has indicated he would like to keep current number one goalkeeper Marlon Beresford after his initial one-month contract ends.

Beresford's short-term deal ends after the game with Bury next Friday.

And despite Fettis now being fit after suffering a broken finger in training Dolan admits there is room for both players in his squad.

"It is a nice situation for me to be in, to have two quality goalkeepers to pick from.

"Marlon has not done anything wrong so far while he has been with us, so Alan is just going to have to be patient.

"He's probably feeling now what Russ Howarth has been feeling for two years.

"We will speak to Marlon at the beginning of next week with regards with where we go from here but I am hoping he will stay with us."

Updated: 14:20 Friday, August 30, 2002