(CNN) -- England striker Jermain Defoe would not be allowed to leave Portsmouth if Harry Redknapp was still manager, the recently-appointed Tottenham boss said on Monday.
England striker Defoe will soon be back in a Tottenham shirt if White Hart Lane hierarchy has its way.
Redknapp's Tottenham are in negotiations to take 26-year-old Defoe back to White Hart Lane -- little more than a year after he left after failing to hold down a regular starting slot.
"The chairman (Daniel Levy) and (Portsmouth chief executive) Peter Storrie are trying to do a deal," Redknapp told PA Sport ahead of Spurs' Carling Cup semifinal first leg at home to Burnley.
"Unless they do a deal, we'll move on. If they want to do a deal they will. It's their choice to say he is not for sale. I wouldn't have sold him if I was manager at Portsmouth and Tottenham came back in, I'd be keeping him."
Redknapp was responding to media quizzing over whether or not Tottenham's reported interest has unsettled players at Premier League rivals.
Another Redknapp target determined to quit his current club is England winger Stewart Downing who on Monday delivered a transfer request -- later rejected -- at Middlesbrough.
"It's the same (with Stewart Downing), I wouldn't sell him if I didn't want to," Redknapp said. "If they want to leave, they have their reasons. If Defoe has got reasons why he wants to come back to Tottenham, fine."
Boro labelled Levy's initial offer for Downing "derisory" and chief executive Keith Lamb said on Monday: "We received a written transfer request from Stewart this morning. It was considered before being rejected.
"Prior to receiving the transfer request, we received an improved offer for Stewart from Tottenham.
"We immediately rejected this offer and informed Tottenham that Stewart Downing is not for sale and any further interest they have in the player will not be entertained."
Redknapp is anxious to strengthen his squad for the second part of the season, with the first-leg clash against Burnley highlighting his problems.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Jermaine Jenas are suspended, while Tom Huddlestone's ankle injury and Darren Bent's groin problem mean they join defender Alan Hutton on the sidelines.
Skipper Ledley King could also rest his knee ahead of the Premier League clash against Wigan at the weekend, with Spurs needing points to climb away from the relegation zone.
Fraizer Campbell and Roman Pavlyuchenko, Redknapp's only fit senior strikers, are set to start in attack for Tuesday's tie.
Holders Spurs want to avoid becoming Championship side Burnley's fourth top-flight scalp from London. "They've had a fantastic run -- Chelsea, Fulham and Arsenal -- so we won't be underestimating them," Redknapp promised.