Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish is excited for his team’s first Monday night Premier League fixture of the season away at White Hart Lane. McLeish expects Gabriel Agbonlahor to win his fitness test after withdrawing from the England squad with a hamstring injury and with former Tottenham Hotspur players Alan Hutton and Darren Bent ready to prove a point, Villa’s boss is confident that his side can win.
“One of Alan’s big assets is bombing up and down the line, a little bit like the boy Kyle Walker is now doing for Spurs. Alan kind of set the precedent and it is one of his strengths. I think in the last two or three games he has been excellent,” McLeish said.
McLeish is also hopeful that Spurs boss Harry Redknapp will be back in the dugout for Monday night’s fixture. Redknapp underwent heart surgery earlier this month to unblock two coronary arteries and has not returned to the Tottenham bench since. McLeish has been in contact with the Redknapp, who is making good progress with his recovery, and wants to see the Tottenham manager in the opposite dugout on Monday night.
“I hope he’s there. I always look forward to seeing Harry. I texted him and he said he was fine. It was a shock at the time, but the specialists nowadays are fantastic in this kind of field and there’s no reason why Harry can’t go on for another 100 years. There are rumours that he’ll be there on Monday and I’m hoping that he is,” McLeish said.
McLeish is himself concerned about health and revealed that he has regular check-ups to monitor his wellbeing, especially with the stress levels associated with being a Premier League manager. McLeish expressed concern for other managers’ physical fitness and said that he tries to use the gym at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground as much as possible.
The Villa boys on international duty have enjoyed success with goalkeeper Shay Given and defender Richard Dunne helping the Republic of Ireland secure qualification for Euro 2012. McLeish was keen to bring his side back into training after the international break and now has extra time to round the troops for the trip to London. In their two other trips to the capital, Villa have earned two draws and McLeish will be delighted with a point against a quickly improving Spurs side.
One player who is not expected to play is midfielder Barry Bannan. The 21-year-old Scotland international has been charged with motoring offences following a crash on the M1. Villa had suspended Bannan whilst an internal club investigation took place and Bannan will appear in front of magistrates on the 25th November.
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