Football

Tottenham Hotspur Vs Bolton Wanderers, Sat 5 Feb 2011

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Harry Redknapp has warned that Tottenham risk losing ground in the push for Champions League qualification unless his strikers start delivering.

With almost two thirds of the season gone, Tottenham have only scored 37 goals in 24 matches compared to the 49 they had amassed at the same stage last term.

While Rafael van der Vaart has made an excellent start to his first season by scoring nine league goals, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch have struck just seven times between them.

Defoe, who scored 28 goals for club and country last season, has seen his form dip this year and is yet to find the net in the Barclays Premier League.

After seeing a deadline-day bid for Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi fail, and sending Robbie Keane on loan to West Ham, Redknapp is keen for Defoe, Crouch and Pavlyuchenko to start delivering fast.

"They are our strikeforce now," Redknapp said. "We are relying on those three to produce the goals. Van der Vaart is the only man who has got his ratio of goals. "We need the strikers to start scoring regularly as well."

Defoe's failure to find the net is the most alarming for Redknapp, who has also been able to rely on the 28-year-old during his spells at West Ham and Portsmouth.

Defoe's progress has not been helped by an ankle ligament injury he picked up on international duty in September that ruled him out of action for two months.

His manager insists he is not too concerned about the striker's goal drought and is sure that he is capable of helping keep alive Spurs' dreams of making the Champions League for a second successive season.

"We are waiting for him to suddenly have that burst of goals that could make the difference to us," Redknapp said.

"If he can go on a run and score some goals he can take us where we want to go. We are relying on him. He is a fantastic finisher. "Goalscorers need confidence. The other night he had a couple of one on ones that he would normally score (but) once they do start going in for him he will start going on a run."

Despite being linked with a host of big names, January ended up being a quiet month in the transfer window for Redknapp, with Steven Pienaar and Bongani Khumalo the only arrivals at White Hart Lane.

Much talk at the start of the month had centred on a potential loan deal for the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham during the MLS off season.

The former England skipper has been training with the north London club for the last month but negotiations over a two-month loan deal broke down, much to Redknapp's frustration.

Beckham will be able to talk to clubs this summer about a potential move when his contract expires in November and Redknapp revealed that he has spoken to the 35-year-old about a permanent move back to the club where he trained as a youngster.

"I have spoken to him. It's not an impossibility," Redknapp said. "We'll see what happens. Who knows what the future will bring. He can still play at the top level. There is no doubt about it in my mind.

"David is due back on in LA on Wednesday. He'll be missed. He has been great - not only is he a fantastic footballer but having had him around the place, he's a great lad."

Redknapp takes his team to Bolton on Saturday knowing that a win will move Spurs level with fourth-place Chelsea, who take on Liverpool on Sunday.

A series of injuries meant Redknapp was forced to field two goalkeepers on his bench for Wednesday's 1-0 win at Blackburn, but he has been boosted by the return of Michael Dawson and Steven Pienaar from suspension and injury respectively for Saturday's game.

Ledley King had to postpone an operation on his groin injury after losing his passport earlier this week but Redknapp revealed that the defender has found it and will now go under the knife on either Monday or Tuesday.


 

Meanwhile, Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden is not getting carried away by Tottenham's growing injury list and still expects their Barclays Premier League opponents to field a strong side.

"They have got players out but, when you look at the squad that Harry has assembled, they have got so much talent to draw on," Holden told his club's official website, www.bwfc.co.uk.

"They have so many options, pace on the wings and I think they pose a really strong threat even though they are missing some important players.

"It will be tough because they showed at Blackburn (where Spurs triumphed 1-0) they are playing well and riding high."

Holden made his Wanderers debut at White Hart Lane last season and played in the 4-2 home victory in November.

Despite being eight points shy of fifth-placed Tottenham in the league, Holden believes his side can take heart from that result.

"We haven't had the best of results at White Hart Lane but we played really well against them at the Reebok earlier in the season, so there's no reason why we can't go and get the points," he added.

"It's a new month now and we are looking to start with a clean slate. The Wolves win is a good stepping stone for us. I think it was the bit of luck that we needed.

"It comes back to that team spirit that we have here. We kept plugging away like we did when we got late results against Blackburn and Stoke.

"We showed that spirit and hopefully Wednesday's win will give us confidence to push on."

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Bolton Wanderers
Premier League

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