Tottenham boss refuses hat-trick hero guaranteed start

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted that Roberto Soldado is by no means certain to start against Liverpool on Sunday, despite scoring his first hat-trick for the club in Europa League action last night.

Soldado netted three times in a comfortable 4-1 win over Anzhi Makhachkala at White Hart Lane, taking his tally for Spurs to nine goals in 16 appearances since his £26m summer move from Valencia.

The Spanish striker had failed to score since October before last night's goal rush, but Villas-Boas is adamant that he will take his time to ponder who leads the line in a crunch Premier League clash this weekend.

Villas-Boas told BBC Sport: "We have to think about it. It's a bit premature.

"We always wanted to give this game to Roberto after two games in a row for Jermain Defoe.

"Now it's about putting the best possible strategy of the game and seeing what we can do. A striker always lives off his goals so it's extremely important."

Soldado's goals combined with a solitary Lewis Holtby strike ensured that Spurs finished their Europa League group stage campaign with a 100% record, one of only two teams in the competition to achieve that impressive record.

Villas-Boas came in for heavy criticism following a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City last month, but Spurs have rebounded strongly with a five-match unbeaten run.

That revival will be tested to the full this weekend by Liverpool, who are three points and four places above Spurs in the Premier League.

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