Tottenham’s Champions League qualifier did not go according to plan, but a spirited comeback has helped restore confidence ahead of next week’s match. Harry Redknapp would have told his players exactly what he thought of their disastrous first half during the interval and after the game but he can be proud of his players for securing two vital away goals to take back to White Hart Lane. However, Redknapp must put the Champions League to one side for the time being as his side return to Premier League action at Stoke on Saturday.
The obvious disappointment from Wednesday’s game against Young Boys was the loss but other problems arose from the game. Luka Modric has undergone a scan on the hamstring injury picked up in the 3-2 loss, which forced the Croatian international to come off at half time. The Tottenham playmaker is a major doubt for Saturday, with the injury leaving the player in some discomfort. “It was so painful at the end of the first half, the last ten minutes,” he said. “That’s why I went off. It’s still a little bit painful. We’ll have a scan tomorrow and see how difficult the injury is.”
Jermain Defoe also limped off with a hamstring problem, and is rated as a slight doubt for the game. Redknapp will be angered further by the fact that both injuries came off the back of playing on Young Boys’ artificial turf, which the Spurs boss already had major doubts over before the game. The Londoner rested both Aaron Lennon and captain Ledley King due to his fears of the pitch disrupting their comebacks to full fitness.
Tom Huddlestone was also rested for the game but was brought on after just 30 minutes due to Redknapp’s eagerness to change proceedings in the tie. The Spurs manager was clearly not comfortable putting his players at risk on the controversial turf. “I left four players out because they weren’t comfortable on the pitch in training yesterday,” he said. “Aaron Lennon wasn’t comfortable; Robbie Keane had a problem with his knee. Tom Huddlestone – the last time he played on Astroturf, he was out for six weeks – his knee blew up like a balloon. I didn’t really want to risk Tom and I only brought him on because we were pretty desperate.”
The injuries will be a huge blow for Redknapp who will have a few selection headaches to deal with in the coming days. The Tottenham manager has enough on his plate with club captain King not being available for selection each week. Jermaine Jenas is still missing, as is Jamie O’Hara. And with just under two weeks left of the transfer window remaining Redknapp is running out of time to build a large enough squad, which would be able to cope with the demands of two fixtures a week. Not just any two fixtures but possible gruelling away matches across Europe in midweek, followed up with a game at the weekend.
Every player will have to play his part this season and many members of the squad who Redknapp would have wanted to sell to raise funds may now may have to stay. There is no way in hiding the fact that next week will be one of the most important in Tottenham’s history. The task is simple for Spurs. A win against the Swiss side will secure a place in the Champions League group stage and an eye-catching £30million jackpot. Obviously, it’s not going to be as plain sailing as that, but Spurs have to be considered favourites and any other result would be a shock.
In the mean time, Tottenham will look to pick up their first three points of the season away at Stoke. Redknapp may look to the possibility of resting a few of his players ahead of next Wednesday’s game, and this might not be a bad idea due to the way matches are normally contested at the Britannia Stadium. Tony Pulis has been adventurous in the transfer marker during the summer – most notably with the addition of striker Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland. They will be no pushovers, and Redknapp knows that. It will be a good match but Spurs fans will surely agree that next week’s game against Young Boys is the more important fixture and will hope Redknapp rests some of last season’s heroes.