Redknapp wary of wounded United, City

AFP, Sunday 11 Dec 2011

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp sees little effect of Manchester United and City's inclusion in Europa League on his side's push for a first-ever Premier League title

Harry Redknapp
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp

Redknapp has long voiced his frustrations at playing Thursday nights in the Europa League then domestic matches on the following Sunday.

And now that Spurs' time in the Europa League is coming to an end—at the same time both Manchester clubs drop into the competition after finishing third in their respective Champions League groups—he can barely hide his relief.

But he believes it will have little or no bearing on Spurs' hopes of overtaking the pair and finishing top of the league in May.

"I would think they will juggle their teams around," Redknapp said. "I'm sure Manchester United will. They have a strong squad. They will be in there at the end of the year, those teams.

"They both have important games again this week and now their priority will be to win the league, for both of them.

"That's top of the agenda now. By far that's the most important competition for them now. I'm sure they will be focusing on trying to do that and they are both strong.

"Manchester United have had downs before and have come back strong. I'm sure they will do that again. I wouldn't write either of them off. They will both be there at the end of the season."

Spurs head to Stoke on Sunday with the chance to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games in the Premier League and post a new club record.

Redknapp added: "The run is down to good players and confidence, playing well, with confidence. We have a bit of belief and believing that we can win games has been the key.

"Every game is difficult in this league. They are always tough games, teams that are not in the top half, but you don't go to those places and get easy games.

"And Stoke will be no different. We know what we are in for on Suday and we have to deal with that, with what they throw at you."

Gareth Bale is a doubt with a knee injury, while Jermain Defoe is struggling with a hamstring strain. Ledley King is out after injuring himself in a training session last week.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis is set to unleash four Spurs old boys on Redknapp, with £10m record signing Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, Matthew Etherington and Jonathan Woodgate all included in his squad.

Crouch will be on a mission to prove a point to Redknapp perhaps more than most after being off-loaded in the summer.

The 30-year-old striker has scored five goals this season and is still looking doomed to miss out on Fabio Capello's squad for Euro 2012.

But Pulis has told Crouch, who has not appeared for England since the friendly with France last November, to not give up on his dream.

He said: "Peter has been brilliant. If you looks at his stats they have been fantastic. Running, the touches he gets, the number of times he keeps the ball. He has just been outstanding.

"I am not telling Fabio Capello who to pick and he knows Peter. He has had him with him on numerous occasions in the England squad.

"If Peter scores lots of goals between now and the end of the season anything can happen."

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