TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp says his side have become victims of their own domestic and European success as he prepares to pick from an injury-ravaged squad for tonight’s visit of Sunderland.
Spurs made the continent’s superpowers sit up and take notice last week when they steamrolled Champions League holders Inter Milan 3-1 at White Hart Lane, winger Gareth Bale shredding the Italians.
But their midweek exertions appeared to have taken their toll on Saturday when they were brought back down to earth, just four days after their European heroics, with a humbling 4-2 defeat at Bolton.
And Redknapp insists juggling the demands of the Champions League with a highly competitive Premier League season has left his players even more susceptible to injury.
“When you’re playing Saturday-midweek-Saturday-midweek in the Champions League and Europe, it takes a toll,” he said. “It takes a toll in terms of picking up the injuries. When you lose three or four players, it is very difficult; it’s hard to be as good as you are when everybody’s fit.
“You look at Chelsea without [Frank] Lampard, [Michael] Essien, [Didier] Drogba; suddenly they’re a different team. When Liverpool don’t have [Steven] Gerrard or [Fernando] Torres or key players there, they’re a different team. Every team is the same, and we’ve had our share recently. One or two vital players, when they come back, you get stronger again; that’s how it works.”
Playmaker Rafael van der Vaart (below) is perhaps Redknapp’s greatest concern, the Dutchman having limped out of the Inter victory after continuing his magnificent form with the opening goal. Spurs will make a late check on his hamstring injury before deciding whether to play him in this evening’s Premier League contest. “He wants to see how he feels this morning but I still think he’d be doubtful,” Redknapp added. “You can’t take a chance and he tears it and he’s out for six weeks or something.”
Midfielder Tom Huddlestone is available after the Football Association decided not to take further action over allegations he stamped on Bolton’s Johan Elmander. Referee Chris Foy confirmed he saw the incident, leaving the FA with little option.
Sunderland arrive in north London just one spot behind seventh-placed Tottenham. They are level on points but, perhaps unsurprisingly for a team with only two scorers in all competitions this season, behind on goal difference. Victory would lift Redknapp’s men to fifth, within touching distance of the top four.
Crazy Bale offer might tempt Spurs
GARETH BALE has not been affected by rumours of a record-breaking move to Barcelona, insists Harry Redknapp. The Tottenham winger alerted Europe’s top clubs with two mesmerising displays against Inter Milan, but the Tottenham manager said: “Nothing would turn his head because he is such a level-headed, down-to-earth kid it wouldn’t change him at all.”
On whether he would cash in on Bale, (right) Redknapp added: “If someone comes in and offers something crazy you never know do you? But he is certainly not a player we want to sell.” Meanwhile, former Juventus official Roberto Bettega yesterday said he had tried to sign Bale for the Italian club last year, adding he found Spurs receptive to a deal.