By Chelsea correspondent Tony Hughes
Fulham have opened contract talks with Chelsea goalkeeper target Marcus Bettinelli, Football Insider sources understand.
The Championship club are keen to tie down the 22-year-old beyond his current deal, which has just over a year remaining.
Football Insider has learned that Fulham are confident of warding off interest in Bettinelli from the likes of their west London neighbours.
The England Under-21 international is said to be on a shortlist of candidates drawn up by Chelsea to provide back-up to No1 Thibaut Courtois next season amid doubts over the future of Arsenal target Petr Cech.
As revealed by Football Insider, it is not certain Cech will leave as he wants a pay-off of around £1.5million to exit Stamford Bridge with 12 months of his £5.7m-a-year contract remaining.
Nevertheless, Chelsea are scouting goalkeeper targets and Jose Mourinho was in the crowd to watch Bettinelli in action at Craven Cottage last week in Fulham’s 1-1 draw against Rotherham.
Fulham manager Kit Symons said earlier this week that he is keen to keep hold of the young goalkeeper.
“He’s a bright young goalkeeper and I’m not surprised he’s being linked with other people,” said Symons. “Marcus has done really well for us this season, I’d say better than I’m sure he expected at the start of the season.
“He’s at the right place to continue his development and he’s learning all the time.”